Although Mayor Ted Wheeler brought two police reform proposals to Portland City Council last week, he yanked both from this week's agenda just before today's council meeting.
One of the changes would have established the Portland Commission on Community-Engaged Policing, a board made up of volunteer members of the public who would review police policies. That panel is meant to replace the failed Community Oversight Advisory Board and fulfill a requirement of the 2012 settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice that found a pattern of excessive use of force against people suffering from mental illness.
The proposal will now be brought to council at a later date.
The other proposal would have clarified the city's position on the controversial "48-Hour Rule" and put into place a code change allowing the city to compel testimony officers involved in fatal shootings without delay.
Wheeler's office said it is postponing the vote on the new policy in order to incorporate changes and draft a better version of the new rules.
For now, the city will return to its previous practice of interviewing officers in the immediate aftermath of shootings. That policy was in place until the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office expressed the view that the interviews would derail any criminal investigations into an officer-involved shooting. The vote to return to the "status quo" will also offer a framework of what the new policy will look like.
"The decision is based upon the immediate need to retain the ability to compel interviews, and the timeline necessary to write the new policy," says Michael Cox, a spokesman for the mayor's office.
Commissioner Nick Fish is working with the mayor's office to craft the new policy. His office said that the new language will be reviewed by the Oregon Department of Justice and the Portland Police Association before it comes before council in two weeks.
"Today's action will ensure that the City retains the ability to quickly interview officers," said Sonia Schmanski, Fish's chief of staff. "Today's proposal gives the Police Commissioner, in consultation with the Chief of Police and City Attorney, the discretion to delay an interview until a criminal process is completed if they believe there's a real risk of jeopardizing the criminal investigation. We believe the risk of that is very low but want to allow for the possibility."
Council will still consider a code change that will give the Independent Police Review the power to make recommendations in its investigations.