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U.S. Attorney's Office and Civil Rights Division Solicit Community Input on Portland Police Bureau Policy Reforms to Improve use of Force, Crisis Intervention, and Officer Accountability

Additional Community Conference Call Scheduled

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. - The United States Department of Justice seeks community input towards efforts to reform the Portland Police Bureau's (PPB) use of force, crisis intervention, and officer accountability policies. The United States Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon, in conjunction with the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division, will host a community conference call with members of the public on both Wednesday October 3rd, and Thursday October 4th 2012 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. To participate, dial the following toll-free number: 1-800-369-1772, and when prompted by the operator, provide your name and the passcode " Portland." The additional call was scheduled to provide for individuals who may have conflicts on Wednesday evening. Participants may call-in for either or both days at any time during the scheduled hours of 6pm - 8pm. The Justice Department requests that community members who have questions or wish to provide comments, provide them in advance of the call by emailing community.portland@usdoj.gov, or calling toll-free 1-877-218-5228, no later than Tuesday, October 2nd. During the call, moderators will address issues raised in the comments and/or questions submitted in advance. Participants in the call may also request to provide live comments and questions during a moderated discussion. The call, including any moderated discussion, will conclude at 8:00 pm on both days.

On September 13, 2012, the Justice Department announced its findings of a comprehensive investigation concluding that PPB uses excessive force against persons with mental illness in three ways: (1) encounters too frequently result in a higher level of force than necessary; (2) officers use electronic control weapons (ECW), commonly referred to as "Tasers" in circumstances when such force is not justified, or deploy ECWs more times than necessary on an individual; and (3) officers use a higher degree of force than justified for low level offenses. The United States and the City have reached a preliminary agreement to make changes to PPB's policies, practices, training, and supervision to resolve the Justice Department's findings. The Justice Department desires community input on the following areas highlighted in the preliminary agreement with the City.

- use of force policies that will provide officers necessary guidance when encountering someone with mental illness or perceived to have mental illness, particularly regarding use of ECWs (i.e., Tasers), and practices for de-escalating encounters arising from non-criminally related well-being checks and arrests for low-level offenses;

- policies to increase PPB's capacity for crisis intervention by utilizing specially trained officers and civilians;

- practices to enhance PPB's early intervention system to identify gaps in policy, training, and supervision;

- ways to expedite investigations of complaints of misconduct while preserving the thoroughness and quality of investigations and community participation; and

- creation of a public body to ensure increased community oversight of reforms.

Those who are unable to attend the community conference call may also provide their comments by emailing community.portland@usdoj.gov or calling toll-free 1-877-218-5228.

Comments provided by the members of the community prior to October 12th will be considered by the Justice Department, along with all other information received throughout the course of the Department's investigation, in working with the City on a final agreement to be filed in Federal District Court.

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