I. Portland's Current System of Police Review

Portland's current civilian review system, the Police Internal Investigations Auditing Committee (PIIAC), does not have enough power to be effective. PIIAC is limited to conducting reviews of completed police internal investigations. Citizens take their complaints of police misconduct to the police department. The Internal Investigations Division considers whether to investigate the complaint. If the complaint is not investigated, or the citizen finds the outcome of the investigation unsatisfactory, he or she may ask PIIAC to review the findings. Then PIIAC uses IID's information to make its judgment. There is no independent investigation of the misconduct complaint.

Nationally, review systems like Portland's are chronically under-empowered, under-staffed and under-funded. Heavy reliance upon documents provided by the police makes objective review of citizen complaints difficult. For example, IID's investigation sometimes leaves out potential witnesses who never come to PIIAC's attention because of the limitations of PIIAC's powers. In an investigation reviewed by PIIAC in April 1993, witnesses came to testify, but PIIAC did not consider their testimony because they were not part of the initial IID investigation.

In the eyes of the public (including those mistreated by police), these review systems appear to be mere extentions of the police force. Further, many civilian review experts find these systems to be ineffective. For one, the ACLU's
Police Practices Project "uses Portland and its
civilian committee as an example not to
follow."1 PIIAC and IID combined found in
favor of the complainant only 3-6% of the
time between 1989 and 1991. The national
average is 10%.2

The public is calling for improved civilian
review. The Citizens' Crime Commission,
in their report on Public Safety 2000, noted
under "Areas of Improvement" that citizens
feel "PIIAC does not provide sufficient civilian
oversight and accountability."3 Other groups
and community leaders encouraging a system
change or overhaul are the City Club of
Portland,4 the ACLU, National Lawyers Guild,
the League of Women Voters, KGW-TV,5
and the newspapers The Oregonian,6 PDXS,
the Southeast Examiner, the Northwest
, and state Representative
Avel Gordly.7 (Also see Appendix C)

PIIAC has recently taken some steps to become more effective. The Citizen Advisors are now
conducting spot checks of IID investigations. Also, they will soon begin issuing the quarterly
reports required by ordinance. (Although the efforts are worthy, the committee has not publicized

1. Oregonian, April 28, 1992, p. A1.
2. Ibid, p. A12.
3. Citizens Crime Commission: Public Safety 2000
    "Information for meeting on
    Aug. 25, 1992," p. 31.
4. City Club of Portland, Vol. 72, No. 33,
    January 17, 1992.
5. Editorial, April 14, 1988.
6. Editorial, February 4, 1993.
7. Letter to Vera Katz, April, 1993.

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