neighbors said they were not bothered by such activity, the police swept the park anyway,
arresting and allegedly beating several men. The Laurelhurst residents said that they believed the
police had not listened to them and that, as a result, they could no longer trust the police.
If community policing has any hope of achieving its goals, it must begin on a foundation of public trust. Extensive research shows that one of the best ways to build and maintain public trust is to create an effective civilian review board. Even Douglas Perez, whose study is often cited by opponents of civilian review, admits that civilian review boards increase public confidence in the police.15
When civilians believe that their trust has been violated, as in the Laurelhurst case, a strong civilian review board can repair this breach in two ways. First, a mediation process allows the civilians and the police to communicate openly, so that each can understand the other's position. Second, any complaints not taken care of by mediation will be fully and fairly investigated. While the civilians may or may not be pleased with the result of the investigation, they can have confidence that the process was impartial.
POPSG has developed a plan that includes nearly all the features of the most effective civilian review systems and is specifically tailored to Portland's needs. In the next few sections, we detail this plan and explain why each part is desirable.
IV. The Board
Currently, PIIAC's Citizen Advisors lack ethnic, cultural, and economic diversity. While there is a balance in both gender and age, the Board is strikingly weighted toward the white middle-class. While in certain circumstances this might not be an issue, when it comes to the police, having an ethnically and socio-economically diverse oversight committee is crucial.
People in more prosperous neighborhoods are likely to have different experiences with the police than those in poorer neighborhoods. In poorer neighborhoods, the police are a regular presence. Special tactical plans, like the recent "Operation Verdict," focus their attention in these areas. Increased police presence is a double-edged sword; it serves as a deterrence to crime, but also lends a sense of mistrust and suspicion of neighborhood residents.
Moreover, a disproportionate number of complaints of police misconduct come from minority members of our community. 17% of Portland's population is non-white,16 while over 25% of all complaints come from non-white complainants.17 In addition, cultural differences, including immigrants who do not speak English and do not understand the American justice system, lead to difficulties in relations between police and civilians.
Attitudes toward the police vary widely among people from different communities and different backgrounds. To have truly balanced and unbiased oversight of the police, the civilian Board must, therefore, represent the diversity of our community. Potential appointees to the Board will be considered according to this factor. The goal in composing the Board is not to seek those most expert on police affairs. Instead the Board will be seen as a jury, and its members will be appointed in order to give each case the most balanced, unbiased consideration.
The Board will not, for reasons of public confidence, contain any current sworn police officers. No more than one former sworn officer may serve on the Board.
The Board will be appointed by the mayor and City Council based on nominations by a specific list of community groups. When PIIAC's citizen advisors were first chosen, they were recommended
|15. City Auditor, op cit., pp. 42-43.||16. Census Bureau data.||17. City Auditor, op cit., p. 6.|