Speaking out again for better community oversight of police
The Portland League has sent testimony to the City Council, supporting Commissioner Hardesty’s proposed charter amendment on police oversight. The City Council will discuss this proposal on Wednesday, July 29, at 3:30.
Although we recognize that it will take more than a charter change, this proposal has the potential to bring us much closer to the type of system envisioned by the majority of Mayor Katz’s workgroup in 2000. That workgroup called for an independent civilian agency guided by a community board with the power to investigate complaints of police misconduct, compel officer testimony, and make policy recommendations to the police bureau and city council.
In addition, the League’s testimony recommends building on the successful parts of our current oversight system. We also believe that improving the current system requires input from the community.
On July 1, 2020, The Oregonian published an “IN OUR OPINION” piece by LWV of Portland Action Chair, Debbie Aiona, and founding member of Portland Copwatch, Dan Handelman. The Portland League and Portland Copwatch have been working to improve police oversight for decades. In their Opinion article, they recommended changes to make the system more effective. These would give more power to Portland’s Independent Police Review (IPR) office and its Citizens Review Committee (CRC).
Ensure that in addition to being able to subpoena civilians and documents, IPR has the power to compel officers to testify or face discipline if they refuse. The office also should be given the authority to access all relevant police files.
Empower IPR to investigate incidents in which police officers use deadly force, and give survivors or their family members the right to appeal their cases to the IPR’s Citizen Review Committee.
Empower the CRC to review cases based on whether the majority of the evidence supports a given finding, rather than having to defer to police bureau decisions.
The death of George Floyd has focused attention on the injustice and discrimination African Americans face in our nation.
The LWVPDX, along with Leagues around the country, is speaking out against police brutality and racism. For more than 40 years, the Portland League has worked with other organizations to improve police accountability and oversight. We are committed to ending the inappropriate use of deadly force by police. We are combatting injustice against African Americans in Portland and in the U.S.
Below is part of a May 29 press release from the LWVUS.
As an organization whose mission is to empower voters and defend democracy, we stand in solidarity with all Black communities. The League shall do so not only by speaking out against racism in all forms, but by doing the work required of us to be anti-racist.
The League bases our advocacy on balanced studies, testimony, and peaceful demonstrations. In early May, our members voted to study Police Accountability in Portland. This study will build on the work of our Justice Interest Group. Careful research provides the data that strengthens our voice as we work to protect the rights and lives of all Americans.