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New Oversight System 2023

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

(posted September 9, 2023, updated October 9, 2023 and November 13, 2023)


In November, 2020, Portlanders voted on ballot measure 26-217 to establish a police oversight system in the City Charter (like the City's Constitution) to replace the current system with a more empowered, community-run board.

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

In the PAC's plan, the new Community Board for Police Accountability (CPBA) will have 33 members who rotate through three-year terms and hear cases in panels of five or more people. 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 will hire the Director of the Office of Community-based Police Accountability (OCPA).

Portland City Council accepted the report on September 21, and has 60 days to forward it as written to the US Department of Justice or make changes before sending it. The DOJ Settlement Agreement about Portland Police policies needs to be revised to match new system.

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UPDATE November 2023:

City Council has released a 27 page rewrite of the PAC's proposal, gutting many of the provisions for transparency, community empowerment and independence.

For a side-by-side comparison of the two plans see this handy spreadsheet created by PCW/former PAC member Dan Handelman along with another former Commissioner.

On November 15, Council voted to accept a watered-down version of the PAC's proposal accompanied by proposed changes to the US Department of Justice Settlement Agreement locking in many of the ill-considered changes written by the City Attorney. The City is accepting comments at DOJ-comments@portlandoregon.gov until December 15. A public meeting between the former members of the PAC and the City is supposed to take place in early December.

Differences Between the Proposed and Current Systems

New System (PROPOSED) Current System Source
Simplified Community-run System: 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. 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- conducts intake); the Police Bureau's Internal Affairs unit (IA- investigates most complaints); the Citizen Review Committee (CRC- hears appeals), and the Police Review Board (PRB). Charter Sections 2-1001 and 2-1005
More Authority Over Police: The new Board will make decisions about whether officers violated policy and impose corrective action/discipline if appropriate. Currently, community members are the majority decision-makers only in the appeals process (at CRC). If the Chief disagrees with the CRC's findings, City Council makes the final decision. Charter Section 2-1007, proposed code Section 35D.180
Investigation of and Authority Over Police Shootings: The new Board staff will investigate deadly force incidents and the system will allow for community members to appeal findings in those cases if officers are not found "out of policy" by the original panel. Currently, 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
Advocates to Guide You: The new system will provide complaint navigators to community members from the beginning to the end of the process. Currently, a person who files an appeal (which excludes deadly force) only gets access to an "Appeals Process Advisor" toward the end of the process. Proposed code section 35D.090
Policy Powers: The new system will make recommendations about policy, training & practices. If the Chief doesn't accept the recommendation, the new oversight board may send it to City Council, and the Charter requires the Council to vote 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 regarding the Police Accountability Commission's Proposal

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

What do you think?
Let City Council know: https://www.portland.gov/help/contact-elected-official or 503-823-4082.

Disclosure: Portland Copwatch members Dan Handelman and Charlie Michelle-Westley served as members
of the Police Accountability Commission.

Print a PDF version of this page (UPDATED 10/9/23)

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Frequently Asked Questions

1) Will police or former police be on the staff?

--The PAC's proposal is that no current or former police should be on the staff of the Office of Community-based Police Accountability. City Council seems concerned that the new Board won't have enough knowledge or will be seen as biased against law enforcement if there are no officers involved. Community members are concerned of exactly the opposite, that having police investigate other police will bias the outcome in the same way having PPB Internal Affairs biases the outcomes currently.

2) Why is the budget going to be over $12 million?

--The Charter assigns the new oversight system a budget equivalent to no less than 5% of the Portland Police budget. The PAC has no control over the Charter's language. But looking realistically at a staff that should deal with investigations, complaint navigation, board support (including for hearings/meetings), outreach, data analysis, policy work and more, the $12 million will go to good use.

3) Why 33 members?

It is expected that the Board will process as many as 240 cases a year, so the workload needs to be spread out. There are currently 26 community members involved in the oversight system-- 11 on the Citizen Review Committee and 15 who rotate through hearings of the Police Review Board.

4) What's the difference between the Board and the Office?

The Community Board for Police Accountability are the minimally compensated volunteers who hold the hearings and hire the Board's Director. The Office of Community-based Police Accountability will be the professional staff including the investigators and other employees listed in the answer to question #2.

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On This Page

  • Background
  • Differences
  • More Information
  • Print a PDF version
  • Frequently Asked Questions  

  • 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 November 24, 2023