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New Oversight System 2023

Comparing the current system to that proposed by the
Police Accountability Commission

(posted September 9, 2023)


City Charter Section 2-10 was voted into existence in November, 2020. It establishes an oversight system to replace the current one with a more community-run, empowered system.

The Police Accountability Commission (PAC) spent 20 months from December 2021 to August 2023 designing what the new system will look like.

The PAC's plan sets the new Community Board for Police Accountability (CPBA) as having 33 members who rotate through three-year terms and hear cases in panels of five or more members. The Charter requires the Board membership to represent diverse lived experiences, including those who experience systemic racism and/or mental illness, addiction, or alcoholism. The charter also prohibits current and former officers and their families from Board membership. The CBPA hires the Director of the Office of Community-based Police Accountability (OCPA).

Portland City Council is expected to vote on September 21, 2023 at a 2 PM public hearing whether to accept the PAC's report. Following that, the City needs to send proposed revisions to the US Department of Justice Settlement Agreement to accommodate the way the new system will work.

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Differences Between the Proposed and Current Systems

New System (proposed) Current System Source
The new Board is community-led with investigations run by non-police investigators. The new Community Board for Police Accountability will hire the Director of the new Office of Community-based Police Accountability. Complaints/cases will move through one system. In the current system, cases/complaints are routinely shifted among four systems: the City's Independent Police Review (IPR); the Police Bureau's Internal Affairs unit (IA); the Citizen Review Committee (CRC), and the Police Review Board (PRB). Charter Sections 2-1001 and 2-1005
The new Board will make decisions about whether officers violated policy and corrective action/discipline if appropriate. In the current system, only in the appeals process (the Citizen Review Committee) are community members the majority decision-makers, and if the Chief disagrees with the committee's findings, City Council makes the final decision. Charter Section 2-1007, proposed code Section 35D.180
The new Board will investigate deadly force incidents and allow for community members to appeal findings in those cases if officers initially have findings other than "out of policy." In the current system, IPR can go to the scene of deadly force incidents, observe the investigations, and vote on proposed findings at the PRB, but cannot investigate . The CRC has been told that they cannot hear appeals on deadly force cases. Charter Section 2-1008, proposed code section 35D.240
The new system will provide complaint navigators to community members from the beginning to the end of the process. In the current system, a person only gets access to an "Appeals Process Advisor" toward the end of the process when there is an appeal filed. Proposed code section 35D.090
The new system will be able to make recommendations about police policy, training, directives, and practices to the Police Chief. If the Chief does not accept the Board's policy recommendation, the new oversight board may send it to the City Council, and the Charter mandates that the Council votes whether to approve the recommendation. In the current system, IPR and CRC can make recommendations and the Chief can decide whether or not to accept them, without City Council's involvement. Charter Section 2-1007b

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More Information

For more information, see the following documents, which are available on
the City of Portland's Police Accountability Commission site:

Disclosure: Portland Copwatch member Dan Handelman served as a member
of the Police Accountability Commission.

Print a PDF version of this page (NEW! 9/13/23)

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On This Page

  • Background
  • Differences
  • More Information
  • Print a PDF version  

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

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

    Page posted September 9, 2023, last updated September 18, 2023