The need for strong, independent local journalism
is more urgent than ever. Please support the city we
love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty Will Seek Referral for New Police Oversight Agency

City Auditor Mary Hull Cabarello isn't sure that's the right move.

City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty filed  paperwork  July 21 to create a new police oversight body called the City of Portland Community Police Oversight Board.

Hardesty wants to replace the current review system, which she says the public doesn't trust, with an agency with greater powers and more money.

Unlike Independent Police Review, which reports to the city auditor, the agency Hardesty proposes would be completely independent. It would also, unlike IPR, have direct access to police reports; could compel officers' testimony without a third party present; and could investigate fatal uses of force.

It would also have a budget equal to 5% of the Portland Police Bureau's budget. That would give it nearly $12 million, four times IPR's budget.

City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero cautions that the new entity, which would require voter approval, would not change much without additional changes to state law, city code and labor contracts. Hull Caballero says a better approach might be to beef up IPR through a deliberate process that includes extensive public input.

"Ours is not a bad system," she says, "but one that can and should be improved."

Hardesty wants to move faster toward a new agency:

"In my decades of working on police reform, the community has repeatedly asked for a truly empowered independent police accountability system because the current one does not have their trust or buy-in," she said in a statement. "This is an opportunity to do something new while carrying over the lessons and victories from the past. This measure includes powers that our current oversight system does not hold, including the ability to discipline officers, impact PPB policies, and compel testimony. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity: there's the momentum and political will to get this through and now is the time to act."