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Judge: DOJ Settlement Agreement With Portland PD 'Fair'

OPB | Aug. 29, 2014 12:47 p.m. | Updated: Aug. 29, 2014 5:05 p.m.

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A US District Court judge accepted a package of police reforms Friday in a settlement between the city of Portland and the federal government.

The decision settles a lawsuit brought by the U.S. government in late December 2012 concerning Portland police actions with respect to people with “actual or perceived mental illness.”

The settlement proposed a series of reforms – and deadlines – on issues including the use of stun guns, assessing police based on their use of force, and the pace of misconduct investigations.

It also creates a new behavioral unit within the Police Bureau.

Order Entering Settlement Agreement, Conditionally Dismissing Litigation, And Setting First Annual Settlement-Compliance Hearing

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In entering the settlement, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon required the parties to meet for annual hearings to make sure the terms of the settlement are being followed.

T. Allen Bethel, president of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, said he’s pleased Simon is requiring annual reviews.

“What the settlement agreement does is that it first brings about the fact that there has been excessive force used by officers in the Portland Police bureau,” Bethel said. “It also brings out the fact that understanding that has happened, there needs to be reforms and changes to correct those issues.”

Bethel said the settlement lays out a way for those changes to happen with community input along the way.

Simon wrote the first hearing will be at 9 a.m. September 14, 2015, at the federal courthouse in Portland.

The city and the Portland Police Association previously opposed annual reviews.

In a statement, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said the city is in the process of hiring a compliance officer and is “serious about having a police force that appreciates the issues around mental illness.”

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