Put Police Accountability in the City Charter 01 09 12

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Make Civilian Oversight Part of Portland's Charter


Occupy Portland in City Hall, 8 Dec 2011


Change Portland's Charter so The People have meaningful oversight over police conduct.

Occupy Portland rocked City Hall, testifying about police misconduct when they didn't want to hear about it.

At set times The People are asked whether to amend the city's governing constitution (charter). A Charter Review Commission (CRC) has been formed and some of your friends are on it. They want to hear from you about changes in the way Portland polices us. Changes this group proposes will be forwarded to an upcoming ballot so voters will decide whether they should be adopted. Unlike the recent work of the Stakeholder's Group, no one from City Council has any say on whether charter amendments go to voters.

After the Mayor tried to silence Occupy Portland testimony in City Council, he's been wanting CRC to quit work even before proposing the utility board he's interested in. Some on the CRC would like to hear your proposals to strengthen independent, citizen oversight of the Portland Police Bureau. Enshrining the office of the Citizen Review Committee (CRC*) in the City Charter would mean that the votes of only 3 city council members will no longer be sufficient to do away with that body.

What are your ideas? Two ideas are gaining traction:

  • The CRC should be provided legal representation other than the City Attorney, who has a responsibility to prevent the city from exposure to lawsuits: this duty conflicts with uncovering misconduct.
  • Eliminate police horses. Perhaps we could get animal rights people to join those of us who were pushed about by these workhorses and into tear-gassers barricading the street. If the city was concerned by infestations in the Occupy Portland camp, then they will be incensed to learn about the rats down by the horse barn!

Bring words you think should go into the City Charter. Bring your friends. Bring us change!

For more information, contact Portland Copwatch.


Portland has spent nearly $7,000,000 to settle the top 25 lawsuits brought against it for police misdonduct. The Police Bureau are under investigation by the nation's Department of Justice, looking for patterns and practices of civil rights abuses. Good governance requires the public now engage in overseeing this bureau's activity.

Portland's "Independent" Police Review Division (IPR) was established in 2001 and given authority to conduct investigations separately from the Portland Police Bureau's Internal Affairs (IA) unit ... yet NO SUCH INVESTIGATION HAS EVER HAPPENED. In March, 2010, the IPR was given broader authority to review Internal Affairs investigations, but The People's 9-member Citizen Review Committee (CRC) was told to wait before they receive more power. A group of citizens, police, and city officials met for four months and, in December 2010, 'The Stakeholders' presented the least controversial 41 of over 150 total recommendations for change to City Council. One year later City Council met. Instead of empowering civilian oversight they may have actually reduced the ability of citizens to discover and correct police misconduct.

CRC's tagline is "community oversight of the police bureau." It is not "simply signing off on police reports about their own misconduct." We need to demand structured change. Once we get this document amended, we can begin work on the U.S. Constitution!

You can also testify by email or by phone at the link below.

more information