Use of mediation is one source of savings. Portland is unusual in that it already has a functioning
office of mediation. Emmanuel Paris of Portland's Neighborhood Mediation Project agrees that
his office could help with the extra load required by this system, with the addition of one mediator.
At least forty percent of complaints will be handled by a mediator instead of an investi-gator,
significantly reducing investigative costs.
Further, some of the Board's costs will be offset by savings in other areas. While the Police Bureau may choose to reevaluate the role of IID, its budget can certainly be reduced. With mediation and civilian investigators in place, IID's caseload will be much lower. And while the savings are less predictable, we can look forward to a reduction in the Risk Management settlements paid to civilians who sue the police--currently over $100,000 each year.
Despite its relatively low cost, this plan for improving Portland's civilian review system will not be free. Remember, however, that the 1993 Portland city budget is almost $900 million and that the Portland police spend over $80 million every year, over $300,000 of it on Internal Investigations. Overall, the cost to city taxpayers will pale beside the benefits to the community.
By voting for the PIIAC initiative in the 1982 election, Portland civilians demonstrated their support for civilian review of their police department. In the ten years since, PIIAC has not been effective in reviewing the police, despite the often heroic work of its volunteer members. This ought not lead us to abandon the idea of civilian review. Instead, we should carry through the ideals of community policing and implement a strong civilian review board like the one proposed in this plan. Such a board will remove the frustrations of the complex, ineffective PIIAC system while increasing public confidence and providing better investigative results. This will benefit not only civilians, but police as well.
Portland civilians and Portland police both deserve an effective and fair system of civilian police review.