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The National Police Foundation Conducts Independent Assessment of PPB Demonstration Response

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The National Police Foundation has released their report reviewing Portland Police Bureau's response to demonstrations.

The demonstrations reviewed took place on:

  • June 4, 2017
  • August 4, 2018
  • August 17, 2019

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR WHEELER

As Mayor, I expect the Police Bureau’s policies, practices, and training to evolve based on ongoing learning, experience, and community engagement. To assist with that, I believe it’s important to sometimes ask outside experts to step in and look at how we’re doing. That’s why I called for an independent assessment of the Police Bureau’s response to demonstrations.

The City selected the National Police Foundation to conduct that assessment. The results are in. I believe the independent assessment demonstrates that the Police Bureau is working hard to continuously improve so we are better prepared to respond to demonstrations.

I’ve made it clear to Chief Lovell that effective demonstration responses ensure people can fully and safely exercise their First Amendment rights. I’ve also made it clear effective responses avoid unnecessary use of police force and prevent violence and destruction.

These expectations, combined, are challenging, particularly given limited resources. That’s why it’s so important that we listen to and act on the advice of outside experts.

I support the key recommendations of the National Police Foundation’s independent assessment:

  • Citywide planning and support for unified responses to demonstrations;
  • Planning, preparation, management, and training for demonstration responses;
  • Engaging the full range of Police Bureau specialists and resources in preparing for and supporting demonstration responses;
  • Maintaining clear, consistent communication with demonstrators and other community members prior to, during, and after demonstrations; and,
  • Fostering a culture of learning to continually improve.

Finally, I’m pleased an independent assessment found Police Bureau employees have taken steps to research and learn from other agencies and have used that learning to implement new and innovative tactics. Although the report by the Police Foundation researched actions taken by the Police Bureau between 2017 and 2019, I know the bureau continues to learn from experience and outside experts. I think we all agree the summer and fall of 2020 provided plenty of opportunity for learning.

To be clear, there’s still a lot of work to be done to improve trust in Portland’s public safety system. This assessment is one step on the road to a safer, more just city.


STATEMENT FROM CHIEF LOVELL

The Portland Police Bureau welcomes thoughtful review, analysis, and critique. This report refers to three events that happened between June 2017 and August 2019. It makes many useful recommendations. The report highlights the need for citywide partners to collaborate in response to mass demonstrations. It encourages open communication between stakeholders, strong regional and community partnerships, as well as the value of a properly staffed police department where wellness is a priority. We have seen in the past when we are adequately staffed and have the aid of other law enforcement agencies, we can minimize destruction and violence in our city. This is an expensive and sometimes not attainable effort, especially when events occur quickly and during times when we only have officers on patrol who are already busy answering emergency calls for service.

I encourage everyone to read the report to benefit from the contribution that it makes to the ongoing conversation about how best to manage demonstrations. It provides insight into the complex issues related to this topic.

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