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  Police Association Contract: Annotated Community Demands Letters

Main letter (September 11, 2019)

For a Fair Police Contract That Serves the Public

We, the undersigned, call upon the City Council and the Chief of Police
to keep the needs of the community at the center of upcoming contract
negotiations with the Portland Police Association (PPA). Many
provisions of the current PPA contract create barriers for an effective
oversight system for complaints and for disciplining officers for
excessive use of force or bias.

A Public and Transparent Contract Process, True Police Accountability

As the City prepares for and begins to negotiate a new collective
bargaining agreement with the PPA, City officials must be clear about
the intended timeline for negotiations AND the timeline for setting the
city's bargaining priorities. Bargaining priorities should be set
through a public process involving the entire City Council with
numerous opportunities for community members to provide meaningful

Many provisions of the current PPA contract make it extremely difficult
to discipline officers
for excessive use of force, racial bias, or
other forms of bias-based policing. These provisions must be changed.
When police violate the deep trust the community has placed in them
they should face real consequences, up to and including termination.

Why Portland Should Improve its Police Association Contract Now: Brutal
Attacks and Lack of Trust

From April 2018 to July 2019 alone, Portland Police Bureau officers
killed eight people, shot at several more, and launched severe assaults
on unarmed demonstrators. This city needs a contract that guarantees
true accountability for use of excessive force. National research is
clear: contracts that include the following proposed changes reduce
instances of police violence and make the city safer for residents and
for police. [1]

Lack of public trust in the police is a serious reality in Portland; a
contract that enforces community standards is a key component of
rebuilding public trust. We support public employees' right to
negotiate good working conditions. As public employees with authority
to use deadly force, police occupy a unique position. Studies show that
a contract which holds officers accountable can lead to improved safety
rates for officers themselves, which we would in turn expect to improve
officer morale.[2]

Specific Changes We Demand:

Improve Portland's Ineffective System of Civilian Oversight:

* Deadly force: An independent civilian agency must have explicit
jurisdiction in deadly force cases.

* Meaningful power: An independent civilian agency needs the ability
to compel testimony and recommend discipline.

* Equal treatment: In misconduct investigations, the officer being
investigated should not have special privileges the public does not

Hold Officers Accountable for Excessive Force or Bias-Based Policing:
The City must be able to fire officers who have used excessive force or
exhibited racism or other oppression against targeted communities.
Provisions in the current contract severely limit the scope of
misconduct investigations and narrowly restrict how discipline is

Institute Comprehensive Mandatory Drug Testing: Require mandatory drug
testing including steroids after officers use force on the public.

Fix the Public Complaint Process: The public should be able to make
complaints without the offending officer having access to their name
and information.

NOTES (main letter)

Section 22.5 says arbitrator's decisions are final and binding and limited to the terms of the contract.
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Section 62.1.3 states the Independent Police Review (IPR) has "no authority or responsibility" on four provisions, including section 61.7 Deadly Force Incidents
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Sections 61.2.2 and indicate that interviews must take place at a Portland Police facility and implies that the interviewer will be an officer: the police officer under suspicion "shall be informed of the name, rank and command of the officer in charge of the investigation."

Note that IPR currently has the authority to issue subpoenas but can't subpoena officers without violating their Fifth Amendment Rights against self-incrimination.
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Courts suggest oversight bodies need to be able to recommend discipline to have true independent power.
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Several sections provide officers rights during investigations. For example:
Sections and say officers wil not be subjected to coercison or abuses of their rights, and will get ten minute breaks for every hour of being interviewed. These are reasonable so long as civilians get the same treatment.
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Drug tests
Section 61.10 only allows random drug tests.
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Anonymous complaints
Section lets officers access names of witnesses and complainants.
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[1] Sinyangwe, Samuel, "Examining the Role of Use of Force Policies in Ending Police Violence" (September 20, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2841872 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2841872
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[2] See preceding citation, as well as Perez, Douglas, Common Sense About Police Review (April 14th, 1994).
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Letter on side agreements to the contract (September 24, 2019)

To the members of Portland City Council:

In addition to the items which are being negotiated directly with the
Portland Police Association for their Collective Bargaining Agreement,
the undersigned organizations ask that Council consider these issues
which may come up as side agreements to the actual contract. While we
do not necessarily agree that any of these subjects are mandatory for
bargaining, we encourage them to be worked out during negotiations to
allow for a better Police Bureau that can build community confidence.

The policy on Body Cameras.

This policy was negotiated in 2016 and the draft at the time suggested
that officers should be able to review body camera footage before
writing reports
. Experts have said this will not provide evidence of
what the officer's "reasonable belief" was at the time of the incident.
We urge Council to disallow review of footage until after reports are

Details on the oversight system

It has been stated that the City is reluctant to give a civilian review
body hearing appeals of misconduct cases a less-than-deferential means
to determine whether officers violate policy because the City thinks
the "standard of review" has to be negotiated. The current standard
asks the Citizen Review Committee-- and City Council-- to ask whether a
"reasonable person" can agree with a Bureau finding.

It would be more meaningful, be more reflective of better systems, and
be easier for non-lawyers to understand if the standard were changed to
a "preponderance of the evidence."

Fixing the Discipline Matrix

It became clear when an officer who made racially biased (and violent)
comments as a "joke" could not be fired
that the Discipline Matrix
needs to allow for firing of officers who commit such acts on their
first offense. We urge the City to fix this part of the Matrix.

We also encourage the City to publish a list of all such agreements
which have been made with the PPA, as they affect public policy. Often
community members call for change and accountability and are told it
cannot be done due to the contract, when in fact the policies in
question have been negotiated in another form. Except for the Ordinance
accompanying the 2016 contract
, it is not clear how the community is
expected to know the substance of such agreements being made in our

NOTES (side letter)

Body cameras
This article outlines the problems with the proposed policy to review body camera footage.
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CRC Standard of Review
The Current standard in City Code 3.21.020 (S) states" A finding regarding a complaint is supported by the evidence when a reasonable person could make the finding in light of the evidence, whether or not the reviewing body agrees with the finding."
The Citizen Review Committee proposed changing the standard most recently in June 2018.
Portland Copwatch and other organizations published an analysis in 2011 explaining reasons the change is needed.
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Discipline Matrix
Sgt Gregg Lewis was rehired and given back pay due to the matrix's provisions despite making remarks about doing harm to African American Portlanders in the wake of the shooting of teenager Quanice Hayes.
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The Discipline matrix says the most an officer can be punished for three incidents of bias based policing is three weeks off without pay.
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Side Agreements
In 2016, the ordinance accompanying the PPA contract outlined various items that were negotiated but not part of the actual contract.
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On This Page

Annotated letter to Council

Annotated side letter to Council


Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065/ Incident Report Line (503) 321-5120
e-mail: copwatch@portlandcopwatch.org

Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.

Page posted November 23, 2019, updated December 16, 2019

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