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Judge Says Portland Police May Need Court-Appointed Monitor

For more than a year, Portland police have investigated but not explained how derogatory slides made it into an officer training on crowd control. For eight months, the city has remained in negotiations with the Portland police union on a policy on body-worn cameras for officers. A federal judge on Wednesday said he was concerned by the lack of progress on both major issues and urged the U.S. Department of Justice and city of Portland to select an independent monitor by next summer to oversee police reforms, The Oregonian reports. The timing would coincide with the anticipated resignation next June of the city-hired compliance officer who, along with Justice Department lawyers, has provided oversight until now. “This might be an appropriate point to transition … to a court-appointed monitor,” said U.S. District Judge Michael Simon. Ana Karia, attorney for the Portland Police Association, said having a monitor would amount to a “sizable change” to the 2014 settlement to address federal findings that police used excessive force against people with mental illness.

The he agreed, but that a significant change appears to be warranted. When he approved the settlement in 2014, the city was expected to institute the required reforms within five years. The settlement called for widespread changes to police use-of-force and Taser policies, training, supervision and oversight, a restructuring of police crisis intervention services and quicker investigations into alleged police misconduct. Eight years later, “we have not yet even achieved substantial compliance, let alone for a full year,” Simon said. The judge said he has no power to order an independent monitor yet nudged the city and Justice Department to either forge an agreement to bring in a monitor or suggested the Justice Department return to court and present him with a motion to consider an appointment. Simon said he was disappointed by the city’s and Police Bureau’s lack of transparency regarding the objectionable crowd control training presentation.


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