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.
The Santa Clara County Bar Association makes an excellent argument for mediation in its report on civilian review:
|20. City Auditor, op cit., pp. 18-19.||21. Santa Clara Bar Associaton Report, op cit., p. 21|