There are two high-profile use-of-force incidents that have been under evaluation by the Portland Police Bureau's review process recently. These include the beanbag incident involving Officer Chris Humphreys on November 14, 2009, and the officer-involved shooting of Aaron Campbell on January 29, 2010.
Timeliness has been an issue this organization has faced with internal reviews. Though there is still room for improvement, I believe we are on a better track to ensure a thorough, timely review occurs and I wanted to let the community know where the reviews are in the process.
Officer Chris Humphreys' use of the beanbag less lethal shotgun on the TriMet platform, which was highly publicized, has been extensively reviewed. It is my proposed finding that this action was consistent with the policies and guidelines of the Portland Police Bureau. The next step is the IPR process, in which the complainant has the opportunity to appeal this finding.
In addition, the Police Bureau is currently reviewing policies and procedures in regard to the deployment and use of the beanbag shotgun. We are also reviewing inter-agency agreements within the Transit Police Division to ensure that all of the agencies' Internal Affairs policies as well as training are aligned.
Aaron Campbell Shooting
I recently spoke with the officers and sergeants involved in the shooting and notified them of my thoughts at this stage. The next phase of the process is mitigation. The involved members and their labor organization will have an opportunity to meet with me, and provide additional information they want to be considered before the Mayor and I make a final decision.
My priority is to protect the integrity of due process and not discuss the proposed discipline. When final decisions are made, that information will be released to the community and as an organization, we will learn from this tragic incident.
I arrived at the proposed discipline by carefully reviewing the Detectives investigation, the Grand Jury transcripts, Internal Affairs review and transcripts, the Training Division's analysis and the Commander's findings and recommendations. I also received recommendations from the Use-of-Force Performance and Review Board, which is comprised of peer member officers and sergeants, Assistant Chiefs, Training Division personnel and community members educated in Bureau policies, practices and performance review procedures.
The Police Bureau's internal review is separate from the Grand Jury, which weighs the facts against state law to determine criminal culpability. The Police Bureau's policies are often more restrictive than the law, and that is what our internal review process examines. The Internal Affairs review, the Training Division's analysis and the Commander's findings and recommendations look inward to see if the actions of Bureau members were within the policies and training that guide Bureau conduct. In considering all of this information, my thoughts at this time are that significant policy violations occurred that have factored into my proposals for discipline. In this incident, I believe each Bureau member involved was attempting to do their best to resolve a difficult situation. However, it is my responsibility to acknowledge and address these policy violations.
The Portland Police Bureau remains one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the country. Unfortunately, this tragic shooting deepened the community's distrust of the Police Bureau. I am committed to rebuilding that trust. I am hopeful that once the community is able to see some of the information from these reviews, they will be confident that the Police Bureau is committed to holding itself accountable and learning from tragic incidents such as this one.
The 930 members of the Portland Police Association are deeply disappointed and disturbed by the discipline Chief Mike Reese and Police Commissioner Sam Adams are proposing regarding this incident. As Portland Police Officers, when we encounter critical incidents, we depend on the Portland Police Policy and Procedure Manual, our training, and our experience. We also depend on our leaders to support us when we follow our policies and training in making the decision to use force or deadly force. In this case, it is obvious to the members of the Portland Police Association that there is an abyss between what the Bureau's policies mean as they are taught to our members and how the City interprets those same policies. This decision by Chief Reese and Mayor Adams sets a dangerous precedent. It teaches us that even if Portland police officers follow the Bureau's policies and training, they act at the peril of their career if political pressure is great enough.
On January 29, 2010, Ron Frashour, Ryan Lewton, Liani Reyna, and John Birkinbine, along with several other police officers, did everything they could to make sure that they protected the lives of everyone involved in this incident, including Aaron Campbell. As found by a Multnomah County grand jury, the officers reasonably believed that Mr. Campbell was armed and dangerous and that it was necessary to engage him to protect the community, the officers and Mr. Campbell. Had Mr. Campbell complied with the commands given by officers, had he not posed an immediate and lethal threat to those around him, there would have been no need to use deadly force against him.
To use the word tragedy regarding this incident is an understatement. A distraught young man lost his life because of his actions. A mother lost a second son in one day. A community's trust has been shaken by the misinformation disseminated by the media. The lives, families and careers of the officers and supervisors involved have been impacted forever. Trust between the rank and file of the Portland Police Bureau and its internal and external review policies has all but disappeared.
What cannot happen is for Portland police officers to face termination and substantial discipline for doing their jobs correctly. If that occurs, as it has today, public safety is deeply compromised. The Portland Police Association will challenge the proposed disciplinary action, and is confident that a neutral third party will conclude that the grand jury made the correct decision. Officers Frashour and Lewton, and Sergeants Reyna and Birkinbine, did what they were required to do – they followed the Bureau's rules and training. Political expediency cannot change that basic fact.
“Under the leadership of Portland Police Chief Mike Reese and his command staff, the Bureau has been diligently and objectively evaluating two recent high-profile use-of-force incidents: the beanbag incident involving Officer Chris Humphreys on November 14, 2009, and the officer-involved shooting of Aaron Campbell on January 29, 2010.
“Timeliness has been an issue the Portland Police Bureau has faced with internal reviews. Chief Reese and I are fully committed to improving on this issue. To demonstrate our commitment to increased timeliness and transparency, the Chief and I decided it was vital to let the community know where high-profile reviews are in their process.
“I have had the opportunity to thoroughly review the written report of the process thus far. Also, I have had staff monitoring the meetings, and I have had extensive discussions with the Chief regarding these issues.
“Chief Reese has made his recommendations to me. I have approved the discipline being recommended, though he and I will not decide upon the final discipline until the process is complete. Furthermore, to protect the officers' rights to due process, I will not discuss the proposed discipline. The next step in the process is the opportunity for the officers involved to meet to present information they believe may mitigate the recommended discipline.
“When final decisions are made, that information will be released to the community and the Chief and I will be available to discuss the matter.
“When I selected Mike Reese to lead the Portland Police Bureau as their new Chief, I did so because of his commitment to the highest standards of public safety professionalism. In working closely with Chief Reese over the past four months, he has demonstrated exactly why he was the right choice for the job of leading one of the most important assignments in the City.
“I want to express my sincere appreciation to the men and women of the Portland Police Bureau for doing their jobs with a deep commitment to Portlanders. I realize these review processes are difficult for all involved. However, I am confident that these processes are integral to bolstering the trust between Portlanders and their peacekeeping professionals.”