f. Board Powers: Recommend Discipline
The Board will have the power to recommend discipline based on its findings. These recommendations will be purely advisory in nature, but will be made public. The Chief of Police will ultimately decide what discipline, if any, is appropriate. That decision will then be presented to the Board.
In order to ensure the fair and complete investigation of police misconduct claims, a team of independentčnon-police affiliatedčinvestigators will be employed by the City of Portland. Board members will oversee the hiring process.
While some members of the Portland Police Bureau believe that non-police investigators would not be capable of performing adequate investigations, evidence from around the country strongly indicates otherwise. In San Francisco, New Orleans, and elsewhere, city-employed investigators are able to conduct inquiries into the claims of civilians. It is true, however, that their success depends on at least three things: adequate resources, the power to subpoena testimony and physical evidence, and full police department and officer cooperation.
It is critical that investigators be directly responsible for processing and keeping track of all formally filed complaints. Upon receipt of the complaint, the investigator will verify the basic facts. It is possible that complainants will file false reports, but it is imperative that every complaint be given this preliminary investigation. If the complaint proves unfounded, or if no violation of police procedure is alleged, the investigator will notify the complainant and the board that the case will not be pursued. If the complaint is well-founded, but is of a minor nature, the investigator will propose mediation. If the allegations are more serious, or the mediation fails or is refused, the investigator will begin a full investigation.
The Board will have the power to adopt the recommendations, to request further investigation, or to accept the investigation as complete but amend the recommendations. Complainants who believe that the investigation was not done satisfactorily will have the opportunity to testify before the Board to that effect.
The Board will regularly review the actions of its investigators and may take remedial action if a pattern of mishandling cases occurs. The Board may also replace an investigator who does not perform his or her duties well.
Those records which the investigator presents to the Board at the hearing will become part of the public record. In those cases which involve pending criminal conduct charges, the records will become public once the criminal case has been resolved.
VI. Filing a Complaint (Intake)
As part of the effort to make the complaint process more open and less ominous to those who have a grievance with the police, we propose that complaints be filed at non-police locations around the city.
Specifically, a protocol for lodging formal complaints against the police will be developed so that complaints can be filed at any of the seven neighborhood coalition offices in Portland.
Under the current system, a person who believes he or she is the victim of police misconduct can file a complaint either at the nearest police precinct or with Internal Investigations on the top floor of the Justice Center. Neither of these possibilities is inviting to someone who believes they have suffered abuse at the hands of the police.