The city auditor's office today released
(PDF) the results of an outside expert's investigation into why it took more than three years
for Portland police
to finish their investigation into the death of James Chasse Jr.
in police custody.
While the report notes that the Police Bureau has made changes since 2006 and has "comparatively excellent processes for investigating and reviewing critical incidents," reviewers said there is "much room for continued improvement" as they found "missed investigative issues, review issues, policy issues, training issues, systemic issues, and the inordinate delay in the completion of the investigative process."
Mayor Sam Adams
, who took over
the Police Bureau in May and replaced Rosie Sizer
as chief with Mike Reese
, said the report does a good job of identifying weaknesses in how long it took the Police Bureau to complete its internal investigation.
"It shows areas the Police Bureau has strengths but it's very clear this investigation was mishandled," Adams said. "And this gives us useful recommendations to ensure it doesn't happen again. The length of time taken to complete the investigation was just unacceptable."
The City Council will take up the report at a 6 pm hearing on Wednesday, July 28 at City Hall. Here are other findings in the report
(PDF) prepared by the OIR Group:
The Internal Affairs Division interviews were thorough and fair but the investigation suffered significant delays because of the length of time Homicide took to complete its investigative book and forward to IAD, staffing shortages at IAD, and Multnomah County's decision to not let its employees be interviewed by investigators until after they had been deposed in the civil case. Moreover, the IAD investigation – which received an unusual amount of attention and intervention from Bureau executives – had significant gaps in information gathering, including insufficient attention to the jail videotape; the lack of attention to alleged on-scene conduct by Bureau personnel, including allegations of inaccurate information about Mr. Chasse being conveyed to a civilian; the failure to interview all of the officers who assisted in restraining and carrying Mr. Chasse; the failure to sufficiently follow up on the delay in taking Mr. Chasse into the jail while the involved officers completed paperwork; and the failure to attempt to question jail personnel about any statements made by the involved officers.
On the police Transit Division:
Throughout our review, we heard repeatedly that Transit Division had a particular way of doing business that set it apart from the rest of the Bureau and gave license to tactics not supported by Training or condoned in other divisions. We also heard that this was a direct response to community expectations and Transit Division's mission to eliminate drug sales and nuisance crimes from on and around the transit system. We believe the Bureau should: Ensure future timely and complete cooperation of non-Bureau officers in Bureau in-custody death investigations;
The ambulance company American Medical Response also didn't cooperate:
Detectives also made another attempt to arrange interviews with the AMR paramedics and were told by a supervisor for the company that access to EMS staff would not be granted and requested reports and records would have to be subpoenaed.