Proposal for an Effective Civilian Review Board: An Update
March 1996
(Page 1 of 2)

In November of 1993, shortly after we released the second edition of our "Proposal," Mayor Vera Katz put forth an initiative to strengthen and remodel PIIAC (referred to here as "The Mayor's Initiative" or "the Initiative"). It was adopted by Council in January 1994.

The Initiative, probably based on the Auditor's Report of January 1993, POPSG's Proposal, and other sources, included many changes that affect the recommendations made in this Proposal.

Many of the changes have taken some time to kick in, and PIIAC is still in the process of redefining itself. However, the basic principle of our Proposal needs to be re-emphasized: that civilians should be able to complain directly to the review board who would then conduct independent investigations.

Specific changes have been made that will affect persons reading this Proposal:

The Board/Internal Investigations:

€PIIAC's Citizen Advisors remain limited to reviewing police investigations and passing on recommendations to City Council (PIIAC).

€However, Internal Investigations has now become Internal Affairs, and detective sergeants do the work, rather than detectives who used to rotate in on a yearly basis.

€There are now 13 Advisors instead of 11, with 7 coming from Neighborhood Coalitions, 1 chosen by the police commissioner (the Mayor), and one chosen by each city council member (including the Mayor).

As a result, the board has a stronger presence of people of color and a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. While not ideal, the make-up is vastly improved.

€Full-time investigators have not been hired. The City's criteria for hiring a full-time staff person for PIIAC (a new position introduced by the Mayor's Initiative) included a background in investigation. Lisa Botsko, the person hired into this position, has been thorough and responsible, given the limitations of the scope of the board.


€The Advisors continue to hold monthly meetings to hear appeals and discuss casework. They have revitalized the practice of making quarterly reports (as outlined in the original charter). Some of the issues brought up have been addressed by the Police Bureau, while others languish in General Order rewrites or miscommunication between the Chief and the Board.

While these "Monitoring reports" make recommendations regarding the Portland Police complaint process and an occasional call to review general policy issues, PIIAC does not seem to be fulfilling its role to recommend policy changes. The Mayor's Initiative specifically calls for them to "highlight trends in police performance, and state the Citizen Advisor's findings, conclusions and recommendations regarding changes in Police Bureau policy and procedures." (PIIAC Rules, Section 2.2.1 [I (A)])

€The Advisors are not specifically charged with helping in the hiring or overseeing of the staff to PIIAC, which we call for in our Proposal.

€While a Mediation plan has been put into effect (see below), it does not fall under PIIAC's jurisdiction.


€Intake sites have been established at all Neighborhood Coalition offices, though it is unclear whether these offices are being used. A community intake point has also been established in Northeast Portland's Albina Ministerial Alliance, though civilians have hardly taken advantage of it.

Two possible reasons for the lack of interest: 1) lack of publicity allowing people to know they do not have to go to the police station to make the complaint, and 2) the fact that the follow-up interviews, etc. will all be conducted by the police.


€Although the mediation plan took effect earlier than other elements of the Mayor's Initiative, it seems to be one of the weakest in its enactment. Only 3 cases have gone through mediation in 2 years (not one case was mediated in 1995). Again, lack of publicity is an element; Internal Affairs also does not always offer mediation as an option; officers and citizens alike have rebuffed the opportunity out of mistrust.

€Mediators in the city's office of mediation have been trained, but because the Mayor supervises the program, the PIIAC advisors are far removed from the process.

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