May 7th, 2013 | by ANDREA DAMEWOOD News | Posted In: Cops and Courts, PDX News, Media, City Hall

Director of Police Oversight Board Quits

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Update 4:40 pm: Mary-Beth Baptista says that she isn't leaving because of her frustration over the demotion—rather than the board's recommended firing—of Police Capt. Todd Wyatt.

"I just felt like this is a good time," she tells WW. "I've been here five years and accomplished what I wanted to do. feel good about the direction the office is going.

She says she's still frustrated over the January dust-up, where Chief Mike Reese ignored the Independent Police Review board's recommendation to fire Wyatt. But she says that being able to speak out about that frustration actually was a step forward from when she first arrived.

"I was encouraged by the ability I had as the IPR director to have enough confidence in where our authority comes from, which is the city code, to speak out strongly against that and not suffer any repercussions," Baptista says.

Original post: Mary-Beth Baptista, director of the Independent Police Review division, says she's leaving in mid-June.

In a news release this afternoon, Baptista doesn't give a specific reason for why she's departing the post, which reviews and investigates complaints against police.

But Baptista has clearly become frustrated with IPR's limited ability to enforce discipline, especially in regards to the recent demotion of Portland Police Capt. Todd Wyatt. Wyatt had been found to have inappropriately touched female employees and escalated road rage situations by flashing his gun and badge.

The Police Review board voted 5 to 1 to fire Wyatt; but Chief Mike Reese instead demoted Wyatt to lieutenant.

"This is not what police accountability looks like," Baptista told The Oregonian in January.

City Audtior LaVonne Griffin-Valade, who supervises the office, plans to appoint Constantin Severe as the next director, according to a release. Severe, a former staff attorney at Metropolitan Public Defender, has served as the Assistant Director of IPR since 2008.
 
Baptista plans to stay and complete the hiring of three new IPR investigators and oversee the release of IPR’s Annual Report.

“When I arrived at IPR in 2008, I had a distinct plan of action in mind," Baptista says in the release. "I’m proud that IPR has moved a long way toward ensuring greater civilian oversight of the police, thanks to hard work and supportive leadership."

 
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