Portland Oregon getting rid of the Citizen Oversight Committee for it’s police
Portland will stop public hearings on appeals of Portland Police Bureau findings that stem from citizen complaints of alleged officer misconduct.
At least that is the latest proposal heading into Portland’s City Council next month by city officials. That proposal has left some with a feeling of unease to say the least.
If the proposal is approved that would mean that complaints would be heard behind closed doors before a Police Review Board.
Some are saying this is what the city needs while others seem to feel that if the proposal passes it will remove what some describe are the very elements that are crucial for promoting community trust in the city’s police force.
Those elements are transparency and citizen oversight.
But that really isn’t the case if one were to really dig into the proposal. Those who file police complaints with the city would be able to challenge a police supervisor’s findings. They would be able to make their concerns heard before the Police Review Board. That is the front of the line.
Currently the Police Review Board is made up of police and one citizen. They meet behind closed doors and make decisions that aren’t working…clearly.
The proposed board would be made up of officers and citizen representatives, more than one citizen. They would then recommend to the police chief whether to sustain a complaint and they could suggest the level of discipline. They would still meet behind closed doors because of union rules and it’s not a court of law and thus complaints are not trials because of criminal investigations.
This step would remove a lot of political red tape that simply is not necessary. Currently across the nation for every citizen oversight board, they are riddled with democracy and bureaucratic red tape.
Both by the way are best described as the messy bedroom of a teenager.
They are mess, they make things difficult, such things like filing complaints, this move is a step to alleviate the mess and get to the floor, the bottom of the pile. It is designed to make the complaint process easier, more efficient and clean for the citizens who file complaints.
Of course the Citizens Review Committee is challenging this proposal and it is completely against it because it would take away the CRC’s right to hear public appeals of the Portland Police Bureau’s findings from complaints it has received.
What the CRC fails to mention is that This step basically if you paid attention combines the efforts of both committee’s working separately into one cohesive group which would be made up of both police and citizens. They are quick however to insinuate that citizens will become intimidated by being behind closed doors with armed officers, hence without actually saying it, they ever so quietly suggest that police are more like bullies with guns.
It’s a subtle suggestion, either way I hear it loud and clear.
Sometimes the need for change is met with a lot of resistance and fear, people don’t like change, they will go to great lengths to prevent it at times, but it’s 2016 and it’s pretty clear that what Portland has in place today isn’t working. It’s a bold move that should be made. As long as they pick the right players from each side, it can be a very big success.
Cristal M Clark
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