It appears that the federal civil rights investigation
into the Portland Police Bureau, announced in July, has produced its first tangible result: A change in procedure requiring that a supervising officer respond to the scene of all reported use-of-force incidents.
A bureau announcement, published minutes ago and reproduced below, includes an acknowledgement by Chief Mike Reese that current practices are not in line with national best practices.
The announcement also reveals that the bureau consulted a private company, Lexipol—which describes itself
as "America’s leading provider of risk management resources for public safety organizations"—in formulating the policy change.
Beginning on January 15, 2012, the Portland Police Bureau will begin a new method of reviewing Bureau members' use of force. This change is in response to the current Department of Justice investigation into the Bureau's use of force as well as research conducted into best practices among major cities.
This new policy requires an involved member's supervisor to respond to the scene to conduct an administrative review of all uses of force. A use of force event is defined by the Police Bureau as an incident where a member is required to complete a Force Data Collection Form (except when the only force applied is the pointing of a firearm); where the member's actions caused physical injury; where the member's actions resulted in a complaint of physical injury by the subject; or the member's actions resulted in a subject or witness making a complaint of excessive force at the scene.
It's important to note that out of the more than 400,000 citizen contacts made by Portland Police officers each year, less than 1% (0.25% to be exact) of these contacts results in a use of force event.
"As the Chief of this outstanding organization, I am committed to providing the very best service to the City of Portland," said Chief Michael Reese. "In doing so, I believe it is paramount that we conduct force investigations in the most professional and transparent manner possible. Based on the recommendations of the DOJ's expert, and consistent with national best practices, I am changing the way the Portland Police Bureau investigates the use of force."
Over the last several months, the Police Bureau has reviewed how major cities across the United States conduct force investigations. In addition, Lexipol, a private company that produces Policy and Procedures for many police agencies, was consulted and concurred that the Portland Police Bureau was not conforming to best practice as it relates to the investigation of force.
This policy change does address several constant complaints of bureau oversight, but it does represent a rare acknowledgement that existing bureau procedures are less than ideal.