A Note About Portland Copwatch/People Overseeing Police Study Group (POPSG)

Portland Copwatch formed as People Overseeing Police Study Group (POPSG), a project of Portland Peaceworks in June, 1992. Since then, Copwatch has consulted dozens of groups and individuals locally and nationwide on the issue of civilian review of the police. With the help of these contacts, Copwatch has assembled a broad range of reports, articles, interviews, and other resources. (For a partial list of these resources and contacts, see the appendices to this report.)

Copwatch has also participated in community forums on police review; produced a packet of information on the issues involved; and maintained the Portland Copwatch incident report line for monitoring police behavior in Portland.

These actions--including the production of this report--are part of POPSG's continuing effort to balance the ideals of a "perfect" civilian review system with the realities of Portland's unique population mix, its Police Bureau and union, and the concerns of its citizens. It is clear that the future of Community Policing and the temperament of the police chief will greatly affect community-police relations. Nonetheless, the following recommendations for the structure and powers of a strong review system should transcend individual personalities and provide a permanent system of checks and balances in Portland.

Copwatch does not present this plan as the final word on civilian review. However, we have intentionally presented a comprehensive package in which each element is necessary for the effective functioning of the others. To implement any part of it without looking at the system as a whole will, we feel, perpetuate the weaknesses inherent in the current civilian review structure.

We want to emphasize that we have deep respect for the dangers and pitfalls of being a police officer, but that we believe community accountability is of utmost importance.

Since the first printing of this plan in June 1993, we have noted a few points that need clarification and made a few minor changes. We've also added an appendix of recent newspaper articles regarding the police and PIIAC, as well as a list of our endorsers and groups who have come forth asking for stronger civilian review. If you have questions or comments, please contact us. Only with maximum input and support from all sectors of the public can a plan like this succeed.

     Dan Handelman
     Portland Copwatch/People Overseeing Police Study Group
     PO Box 42456
     Portland, OR 97242
     November, 1996
     (original liner notes co-authored by Marc Jolin, May 28, 1993)

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