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Give yourself a star if you were on board with those predictions. And head for the dunce corner if you actually believed there was any chance the DOJ report this week could have come to any other conclusion than to find the city lacking in competence. The report, found here, finds the City of Portland lacking in policy competency, administrative control, informed leadership from City Hall and also found it guilty of abandoning its commitment to protect the mentally ill.
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And if you are a potential trial lawyer for future plaintiffs alleging excessive use force against the Portland Police Bureau and the broader target of the entire administrative structure of the City of Portland, try not to smile at least in public, please don't skip down the street to work this morning, and do us a favor, no Thank You notes to the Mayor's office. And also, absolutely no flowers to the Police Commissioner even if they are pretending to be in sympathy.
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But if you are a voter and taxpayer in the City of Portland you had better get tuned in and stay tuned. That includes you Charlie Hales and Jefferson Smith.
If it does nothing, the City faces a financial abyss.
Chief Reese called the report disappointing. So do I but for different reasons. The feds got it right regarding the general absence of relevant policy and sputtering supervision from the top. But they completely missed the real fix and apparently accepted the same old tired "we are going to do better" solutions. Let's withhold final judgement until we see the final signed agreement between DOJ and City Hall.
|PPB Recruiting Photo|
Here are my recommendations:
- DOJ needs to overnight the report to the Governor's Office, the Oregon Attorney General and the Oregon Legislature's leadership. They need to edit the report to point a clear finger of blame at the miserable failure of the de-centralized mental health system in this state. They need to first demand an apology to the street cops who have been forced to deal with not chronic problem mental health issues on the streets or Portland but what has become a dangerous culture of mental illness. Then the state needs to be made to fund street level programs for police,prosecutors and courts backed by in part a re-centralized state mental health system.
- DOJ needs to require mileposts markers and a review oversight process of progress in the court enforced. That is to include not just in the reduction in the degree and number of use of force incidents involving the mentally ill. Much more emphasis should be placed on the administrative,supervisory and overall policy updating and street implementation.
- DOJ needs to require the city to create an annual public policy use of force review process at the city council level. The purpose is not to assure the cops are doing the right thing, although that can be included. The real purpose is to force the Police Commissioner and City Hall generally to prove that the use of force policy standards are current, have been implemented, evaluated and revised in line with accepted police and mental health practice.
- DOJ needs to assure the public process is more than a process but the priorities of the informed community becomes part of a signed and implemented agreement.
So in the end the cops will always be expected to follow the policy and react accordingly. Most of the time they do. When the individual police officer is outside the policy, corrective action needs to follow and follow with certainty.
Because if we take the same old tired approach and again believe our leaders will for sure get right this time we will become part of the Peanuts comic strip. Remember Lucy always promised Charlie Brown that she would for sure keep the football in place if he would just believe things would be different this time.
If we take that run one more time based the same promises count on the ball being pulled away again and Portland citizens will once again be on their back looking up.
And our mentally ill can count on Lucy's .05 cent mental health system, along with its results and protections.