The person may also notify Risk Management of their intent to sue. However, this usually requires hiring a lawyer, which is difficult, particularly for poorer people. Further, many complaints are not sufficient basis for a suit.

One other possible route is to complain to the new city Ombudsman. This office currently has only two staff people who take complaints regarding every city department. With over 600 complaints in its first three months, it is unlikely that the office will be able to pay close attention to every complaint of police misconduct.

In far too many cases, where a person does find the strength to register a complaint with the very Bureau whose members he or she is accusing of misconduct, the complaint is improperly processed. In the 1970s, the Internal Investigations Division was created in part because complaints brought to the precincts were seldom properly addressed. But, as noted previously, the January 1993 City Auditor's report shows that over 30% of the complaint calls reviewed were mishandled by IID.20 Currently, it is not possible to assess the number and nature of complaint calls that IID receives, because no complete record is kept.

Creating a complaint filing system that is independent of the Portland Police Bureau will make the sytem more accessible to individual complainants. Under this new system, a complainant will be able to go to the nearest neighborhood coalition office to file a formal written complaint. (M'Lou Christ of Southeast Uplift has agreed that this service could be handled by the coalition offices.) Translators will be provided for complainants who do not speak English. Postage-paid forms will be available in most city buildings, so complainants can easily file by mail.

Complainants, of course, may be officers as well as civilians.

After it is received, the complaint will be copied and sent to the office of civilian investigation, as well as to IID, at the complainant's request. (IID will choose whether to conduct its own investigation.) The office of investigation will log the receipt and nature of the complaint and begin the investigation. The office of investigation will also take complaints directly.

VII. Mediation

The Santa Clara County Bar Association makes an excellent argument for mediation in its report on civilian review:

A non-adversarial, voluntary, informal resolution process should be established for complaints of a minor nature. Some complaints arise from simple misunderstandings or minor acts of rudeness or discourtesy. No one should have an interest in resolving these sorts of issues with an overly formal and time-consuming complaint investigation or hearing.

The officer may be quite willing to apologize or sit down with a complainant and explain things from his or her perspective. A complainant is probably more interested in being treated with respect by the officer and having his or her concerns acknowledged than in having the officer disciplined. Unless there is a pattern of similar conduct by the officer, neither the police department nor the Civilian Review Board should have any independent interest in a formal investigation of these kinds of complaints.

This informal resolution process could range from sitting down with a mediator to a private meeting to a written apology. It should be completely voluntary on the part of both the officer and the complainant.21

Of course, the implications of entering into mediation and the exact mechanics of the process will be fully explained before a complainant chooses that route.

20. City Auditor, op cit., pp. 18-19. 21. Santa Clara Bar Associaton Report, op cit., p. 21
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