A community board advising the city on police reform wants Mayor Charlie Hales to kill the 48-hour rule immediately.
The Community Oversight Advisory Board unanimously passed a formal recommendation to the city on Thursday, asking Hales and Police Chief Larry O'Dea to strike the rule, a provision in the city's contract with the police union that gives officers who use deadly force 48 hours before they have to answer administrative questions.
The vote comes in the midst of a mayoral election that has brought renewed attention to the 48-hour rule, an obstacle to police accountability that activists and elected officials have decried for years. Several mayoral candidates, including Ted Wheeler and Sarah Iannarone, consistently have called for an end to the 48-hour rule.
The COAB was formed in 2012 to oversee the city of Portland's observance of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice stemming from federal findings that Portland police engaged in a "pattern or practice" of excessive force, notably against the mentally ill.
The group submitted a similar proposal when it formed, and Hales, then just a candidate for Portland mayor, pledged to do away with it. He hasn't.
Now, after four years without change, the COAB wants a clear timeline from Hales on how he plans to make the switch. The police union contract doesn't expire until the middle of next year. In other words, it is likely the next mayor will have to address the problem.
"The contract isn't open yet, so the mayor can't immediately act on it as the COAB requested, but shares the community's concerns," writes Sara Hottman, a spokeswoman for the mayor, in an email Friday. "Because it's subject to bargaining, he can't say much more at this time."
The board's recommendation tied the 48-hour rule to distrust and skepticism in Portland toward police.
"This recommendation says directly to the mayor and the chief that we want them to act immediately," lawyer Tom Steenson, a board member, said. "Get it done, and get it done now."
Correction: An earlier version of this post mistakenly attributed Tom Steenson's quote to the wrong person. WW regrets the error.