Continuing claims of disparate enforcement tactics of whites versus minorities are an exact replica of the Department of Justice model used in the just completed Seattle investigation. Expect a cookie cutter investigation but even heavier DOJ demands to be placed on Portland City Hall than the settlement in Seattle.
Look for the DOJ findings from the Portland inquiry and what are rarely and in this case will be barely negotiable demands before the end of October.
A) The appointment of a "strongman" (my word) monitor who will oversee implementation of the department from within. This monitor will need to have the power to:
- Overrule those within the police department who do not want change.
- Identify which members are friends to reform.
- Recognize the community as an equal partner in developing new proceduresThis will have a strong racial disparity component.Look for an Office of Inspector or Inspector General to be created in SPD. Look for it to be "civilian."B. Require the Mayor to create a community police commission with a "broad scope of work" and thus far reaching authority. They need to be ready to take it to the ground.Look for a "Police Review Commission" much like Portland's except look for it to have much more specific powers. A Police Commissioner is in the works. This one might go the ballot for a structural change the City of Seattle charter.C. All parties must acknowledge that the racial issue is not a person by person problem but one of people of color being treated differently than whites for the same act. If that scenario exists then there is a systemic problem within SPD.
When Portland's report is issued look for a hard hitting report with many of these same requirements--not recommendations-- imposed by the USDOJ. I think the point-by-point fixes will be even more onerous than in Seattle and will prompt a huge debate within the community.
The Political Effect:
I can tell you if the DOJ report is issued before the ballot come out for Mayor, the race may turn on this issue and how well Hales and Smith are prepared to address the recommendations. They need to prepare their responses now and take a general position even before the report is issued and adjust accordingly.
Bernie Giusto is the former Multnomah County Sheriff, former Gresham Police Chief and is a former OSP Trooper. He appears on The Victoria Taft Show every Friday at 11 for "Week's End With Bernie" where he tackles your questions and opines on law enforcement issues throughout the country and their impact locally.