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Council to consider more police oversight

The City Council will consider increasing the authority of the Independent Police Review Division to investigate and publicize citizen complaints against the police Wednesday.

City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade is requesting the changes to the powers of the division, which is part of her office.

Among other things, Griffin-Valade wants division investigators to be able to directly question police accused of misconducts. She also wants the division to be able to release the names of such officers during the early stages of the investigations, something it cannot do now.

Such changes are required by the settlement between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice that resolved a federal investigation into the excessive use of force by police, according to Griffin-Valade.

"The settlement agreement between the United States Department of Justice and the City requires that the Independent Police Review Division has the ability to conduct meaningful independent investigations," reads the ordinance submitted by Griffin-Valade. "Allowing the Independent Police review Division to directly question Police Bureau employees will reduce time and effort in the City's investigations of police officer misconduct."

The union representing rank-and-file bureau employees opposes the ordinance, however. Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, says the contract between the union and city requires such changes to be negotiated through the collective bargaining process.

The Independent Police Review Division — commonly known as the IPR — was created by the council in 2001 to investigate citizen complaints of police misconduct and recommend discipline. The City Charter currently prevents IPR investigators from directly questioning police or releasing their names in the early stages of the investigation. Bureau commanders are not required to follow the IPR's recommendations. The IPR can appeal disciplinary decisions to the council, however.

The U.S. Department of Justice investigated allegations that police routinely use excessive force against minorities and the mentally ill at the request of former Mayor Sam Adams and former Police Commission Dan Saltzman. A settlement reached by the department and city calls for changes in how the city investigates citizen complaints against the police.

According to city documents submitted with the ordinance, the IPR developed its proposed changes after communicating with numerous advocacy organizations representing minorities and the mentally ill. They include the Albina Ministerial Alliance, the Center for Intercultural Organizing, the Urban League, Disability Rights Oregon, the Oregon Association for Black Affairs, the African American Chamber of Commerce, the Latino Network, Native American Youth, the Mental Health Association of Portland, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization, and Basic Rights Oregon.