Portland has an Office of Mediation through which such meetings can take place. Board members will periodically attend mediation sessions, with the consent of all parties, to ensure that the process is satisfactory and unbiased. Successful mediation implies that both parties are satisfied with the outcome. If no solution is found through mediation, a full investigation will follow. Although the parties will retain the right to sue, statements made during the course of mediation may not be used in a legal action. In fact, both parties will keep such statements confidential. We estimate that over 40% of complaints can be handled through mediation.

VIII. Assured Results

Complainants will be assured results in four months (120 days), save for special conditions such as criminal conduct investigations pending. The Board will be responsible for contacting the complainant, the Chief of Police, and City Council, and for publicizing its findings. If no result is forthcoming, the Board will advise the complainant and the officer involved, in writing, as to the reason for the delay and the timetable for completion.

The Chief of Police will respond to the Board's recommendations within 30 days. The response, which will be made public, will state the actions taken by the Chief, if any.

IX. Financial Concerns

The costs associated with implementing and sustaining such a system are reasonable. The funds required will be made available by the use of already existing resources, reduction of financial settlements in police misconduct cases, and a greatly reduced IID budget.

In the chart below, we have made rough estimates, based on the costs of other cities' civilian review systems and our own research. We have attempted to err on the side of caution by over-estimating wherever possible. For example, investigators' salaries vary widely across the country. We have assumed a salary of $45,000 per year, which is near the top of the national scale.

The Board will be less expensive than comparable civilian review systems elsewhere. For example, San Francisco, a city of 725,000 people, handles 1400 complaints per year with an annual budget of $1.3 million.22 We estimate that Portland, with a population of 435,000, will handle 400 complaints yearly for about $320,000.

The savings would allow a small stipend to be paid to the Board members. Current PIIAC Citizen Advisors complain about a lack of time as volunteers fulfilling their duties. We propose that Board members receive a minimal hourly rate with a maximum of $100 per month. Berkeley, California, which has a similar system for its Police Review Commission, has found that most members do not need or accept the stipend. Some members find that the stipend helps with child care and transportation.

One Chief Investigator will, in addition to handling complaints, perform administrative duties.

22. San Francisco Office of Civilian Complaints.

[]Previous page []Next Page
Table of Contents
Proposal for an Effective Review Board page 1
Return to Copwatch home page