The Portland Auditor’s Independent Police Review Division released a report Wednesday looking at seven officer-involved shootings between 2004 and 2010.
The division found the police bureau is making policy changes as a result of some of those shootings. But the report also made recommendations for more improvements.
The Auditor’s Independent Police Review Division looked at the shootings of James Jahar Perez, Raymond Gwerder, Jerry Goins, Lesley Stewart, Jason Spoor, Aaron Campbell and Jack Dale Collins.
Division Director, Mary-Beth Baptista explained, “Instead of just going sequentially in order, we thought it would be important to look at themes. And so the OIR group selected incidents involving police bureau encounters with individuals experiencing mental or emotional crisis. And another theme was looking at communication on the scene of critical events. So that’s how they chose these cases together.”
Baptista says they found that police have made significant changes to their policies as a result of the shootings. But the review division made several recommendations including: making the “Mobile Crisis Unit” that responds when somebody is having a mental health crisis into a permanent team and re-examining the Taser policy in light of research indicating the elevated dangers of prolonged Taser use. Baptista says police have made a lot of changes, but more work needs to be done.
She said, “The OIR group really looked at the internal affairs investigations that are done in these cases and they did talk about some really significant improvements in the depth and timeliness of those investigations. Training reviews was another area that they saw that there was areas of progress. Other areas that we didn’t see such improvement was the timeliness of investigations, they’re still much longer than they should be.”
Baptista says the division also found that the restriction that officers can’t be interviewed before 48 hours after a shooting, needs to change.
The police bureau say that’s a union requirement that it’s looking into.
Police Chief Mike Reese has seen the report and wrote back to the review division thanking members for their work.
He says the bureau has made many changes to it’s policies, procedures and training. And he says he agrees with the vast majority of the recommendations.
The review division will now look at another half dozen cases during the same time period. It’s expected to take about a year and a half to finish.
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