Audit looks at PPB officer-involved shootings

Faster investigations and better in-field communication necessary

Constantine Severe, the director of the Independent Police Review (IPR), September 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
Constantine Severe, the director of the Independent Police Review (IPR), September 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A newly released audit looking at how Portland police handle officer-involved shootings said better communication and faster investigations are needed.

This is the third report issued by the independent reviews, the OIR Group of California, looked at eight officer-involved shootings and one in-custody death between 2006 and 2011.

Certain themes emerged, including the need for better communication among officers in the field and more timely investigations when incidents happen.

The Independent Police Review division of the Portland City Auditor’s office released the OIR report.

“When you have an officer-involved shooting, an in-custody death, and it takes several years for the city to conduct its investigation process, that does not provide a product that’s very useful to community members,” said IPR’s Constantin Severe.

One incident reviewed was the case of Ralph Turner, 62, who shot and wounded two PPB officers when they responded to his Southeast Portland home in March 2011.

“The officers had no idea when they knocked on the door that they’d be met with gunfire, and the man would shoot an officer across the street in the park,” Sgt. Pete Simpson said. “So those incidents are hard to prepare in a way that everything’s going to be perfect, and the outcome’s going to be perfect.”

Previously, the OIR group reviewed high-profile police shootings that resulted in deaths, including that of Aaron Campbell, and the in-custody death of James Chasse.

The US Department of Justice also reviewed those incidents and recommended changes to how police deal with the mentally ill.

“With these recommendations, most of them have already been implemented,” Simpson said.

“Improving it isn’t just enough,” Severe told KOIN 6 News. “It’s important for us to reflect our values as a community.”

The OIR will present its report to the Portland City Council on December 3.

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