AUDITOR AND IPR UNDERMINE THE PROCESS THEY SUPERVISE
We now turn our attention to Auditor Gary Blackmer and IPR Director Leslie Stevens, and
concerns about their handling of the shootings and deaths in custody reports.
--Unsupported claims regarding "drop" in shootings
On January 9th, the IPR published a news release which indicated that the number of police
shootings in Portland had dropped as a result of the PARC reports. They asserted that the average
shootings from 1997 to 2002 was over 9 per year, while 2003 to 2006
averaged less than 6.
Our analysis of shootings since 1997 shows an overall average of 7 shootings per year, or one
every 52 days.
A look at the raw numbers shows that although there were only 4 shootings in each of 2003 and
2004, there were 9 in 2005 and 5 in 2006 (bringing us back to the average of 7).
Furthermore, the news release, like Auditor Blackmer's cover letter, indicates that they believe the
new report refers only to the year 2002, while it actually covers 2002 and January to November of
2003. The drop in shootings in 2003 and in 2004 can also be attributed to the huge public outcry
following the deaths of Kendra James (nearly 4 months before the PARC report came out, with a
pause of 169 days before the next incident) and of James Jahar Perez (after which there was not a
shooting for 239 days--the second-longest period since 1991).
Their claim also fails to hold up regarding the average number of shootings, since they began in
1997 to show a 10-year trend, when just prior to this time in 1996 there were only 5 shootings and
in 1995 there was 1.
But most telling of all is that PARC's report itself in the introduction clearly states that nobody
reading the report should expect that any but one of the cases covered in any of the reports were
influenced in any way by their recommendations, which didn't go into effect until September of
2003 (p. 4). In other words, the IPR's claim has no foundation whatsoever in the report which it
Beyond those facts, one of PARC's recommendations which was adopted, restricting officers'
ability to shoot at moving vehicles (2003 #7.15), was apparently ignored last January when Lt.
Jeffrey Kaer shot and killed Dennis Young in a car Young was driving.
--The authors of the report and the community are not adequately involved in the report's
PARC explicitly points out that they are not able to comment on the responses from the Mayor and
Chief published as part of the report (p. 9). In addition, the request for PARC to send a staff person
to publicly present the report to the City was dropped for financial reasons. Oren Root told
community members last year that they would be willing to send someone if the City were willing
to spend the relatively small amount to make it happen. Apparently, this invitation was not extended
The members of the community who met with PARC last April, including members of the Citizen
Review Committee, were not informed when the report was going to be released in early January.
Public notification was sent out roughly 17 hours before the scheduled Council hearing, and the
report was released only one hour prior to that time.
We believe that if the Bureau, the Mayor, the IPR, and the City Attorney get to see drafts of the
report, the CRC should also have input prior to its publication.
--The content of the report was kept out of the public eye, like much of the information about the
We have described above the rather absurd position the community faces when being asked to
comment on particular cases being reviewed by PARC if we cannot know the names of the suspects
in those cases. Similarly, the news release and the Executive Summary released by the IPR do not
address the actual content of the recommendations made in the report.
We thank the City Council for delaying the hearing on the PARC report so that community
members would have time to make informed comments on the actual content.
At their news conference, the IPR and the Auditor added to their "average number of shootings"
chart by pointing to a survey of how well Portlanders felt the City handled complaints against the
police. The numbers have improved recently, but are still below 50%. But more significantly, this
information again had nothing to do with the content of the report.
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When the IPR was created, it was promised to improve police service and restore trust in
government (IPR ordinance, section 1). It was intended to "improve effective communication"
between citizens and the Police Bureau (section 2). The previous system, PIIAC, was called the
community's "window into the Police Bureau." Much of the time, it feels as if the IPR has installed
a new window that is not transparent, and is frequently shut.
We encourage the City to take a closer look at the entire IPR system, as they have had $60,000 set
aside since June, 2005 to do. Council should consider assigning shootings reviews to an
independent local body including civilians who live in Portland and who can analyze both police
policies for best practices and Portland Police policies for what is best for our community. We
strongly believe that further integration of the civilian oversight panels, and looking holistically at
police actions ranging from mere rudeness to the use of deadly force, is the only way to begin
gaining the public's confidence that the system is serving its purpose of holding police accountable
and improving police services.
for Portland Copwatch
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*The letter was co-signed by members of the NW Constitutional Rights Center, the Portland
Schools Alliance, and the Latino Network.
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**The 9 "Done" recommendations: 6.1, 6.8, 6.10, 6.14, 6.15, 6.18, 8.2, 8.2, 8.5
The 2 "Done in spirit": 6.9, 6.19
The 4 partially done or in progress: 6.2, 6.4, 6.5, 8.4
The 4 implemented but not written into protocols or PARC can't tell: 6.3, 6.6, 6.12, 6.17
The 6 which are not done: 6.7, 6.11, 6.13, 6.16, 6.20, 8.1
(Commander as non-voting member, written findings to the Chief, investigators take lead in
presenting case, include policy/tactical comments, awards committee send information to UFRB,
analyze trends in shootings data)
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***In our original posting of this analysis, we assumed that the suspect in the case where a
complaint of retaliation was filed was Dustin Gomez. We also assumed that the officer in that case,
George Weseman, was the one awarded with a medal before his case had been reviewed. We wrote:
"Since his action of shooting blindly at Gomez endangered the public (p. 55) this should have
figured into the new awards process. "
We stand by the assertion that Officer Weseman should not have received an award given these
circumstances, but apologize for any error.
It should be strongly noted that the main reason we made this mistake was that the Auditor refuses
to allow PARC to print or reveal the names of officers and suspects in the cases, as noted in our
analysis. In fact, it was Oren Root of PARC who drew our attention to these errors in a phone call
on February 5, but he was unable to identify for us the correct names.
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Posted January 23, 2006; updated February 6, 2007