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PAC: Summary of Recommendations

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On this page

 This page is maintained by staff following the conclusion of the PAC on August 31 and its presentation to City Council on September 21.

Community members and media seeking more information can read the full recommendations, or see answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Context

The Police Accountability Commission (PAC) was created in 2021 to create proposals for City Code (the laws of the City) that would create a new community police oversight board. The PAC’s recommendations needed to fit within the broad rules about an oversight board in the City Charter (the Constitution of the City), which were approved by voters in November 2020. The PAC finished its work and presented it to City Council in September 2023.

The PAC was a group of twenty volunteer community members appointed by the City Council. Five of them were members of overpoliced communities, five were representatives of organizations serving overpoliced communities, five were representatives of community justice organizations, and five were representatives of Portland’s small business community.

The PAC proposed a system that is able to be implemented, equitable, representative, fair and impartial, able to address barriers to police accountability, and able to maintain good aspects of the current system and integrate best practices from other systems in the US. Throughout the course of its work, the PAC researched law enforcement oversight practices from other jurisdictions around the country; heard from hundreds of local community members, all of City Council, staff and volunteers from the current oversight system, other local officials; and held over 120 public meetings and hearings. When the PAC finished their work in August 2023, it had developed a final recommended code package which would change the way police oversight works in Portland.

Overview

The PAC’s recommendations will create an Oversight System that includes a Community Board for Police Accountability (CBPA) which will oversee the Office of Community-Based Police Accountability (OCPA). The CBPA will be composed of 33 community volunteers and the OCPA will house the City staff. The staff will be led by a Bureau Director who will hire other staff to complete the work of the OCPA.

The new Oversight System will have the authority to investigate potential police misconduct by gathering evidence, accessing police records and body camera footage, requiring that witnesses give statements to investigators, and requiring PPB officers and their supervisors to participate in investigations. These investigations will be fair and impartial. Small panels of the Board will determine findings for each case based on the investigations completed by staff. If an officer is found to have engaged in police misconduct, the Board will use the agreed upon disciplinary guidelines to determine appropriate corrective action. The Board can also recommend policy changes for police, which will be sent to the Police Chief and, if needed, City Council for a final decision. The Oversight System will also hold public meetings.

Investigations

PAC Recommendations - Investigations' 5 Steps

Any person who witnesses or experiences alleged misconduct by a PPB officer may file a complaint with the new Oversight System. Automatic investigations will be initiated for major incidents such as those involving use of deadly force. Complainants will have access to Complaint Navigators throughout the entire case in order to answer questions, inform them of the process, and act as a main point of contact.

A panel of 5 or more Board members will determine the findings of each case brought before it. The panel’s findings will fall into one of four categories: “out of policy,” “in policy,” “unfounded,” or “insufficient evidence.” The Board will also have the option of additional findings that address systemic issues identified from their work and can help the police improve their structures to prevent future problems.

If either party disagrees with the findings, they may file an appeal. For less severe allegations, both sides can pursue mediation, or complaints can be resolved informally through discussions with the officer’s supervisor. This will allow the opportunity for improved relations between police and the community and provide a swifter resolution of cases, as they would not go through a full investigation.

Investigations: Old vs. New
What is Changing?What is Staying the Same?
Complaint Navigator provided from the beginning of the complaint process.Use of discipline guide (PPA-bargained guide and the statewide discipline guide).
One entity reviews each case instead of several.Use of panels of 5-7 members to decide cases, similar to PRB.
Administrative investigations into deadly force cases and the ability to appeal the decision.Due process, just cause, and 5th amendment rights preserved.
Community members on the Board make final decisions on findings.