City pays PPB reform consultants $315K

Critics say city is dragging its feet by playing 'political games'

The Portland City Council, Jan. 7, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
The Portland City Council, Jan. 7, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — On a day the city agree to pay more than $315,000 to a committee that will oversee the Portland Police Bureau, the city is still looking to clarify some of the reform measures.

The appeal is drawing heated opposition from those who want big changes when it comes to the police use of force.

The fight began in 2012 when a Department of Justice investigation found Portland police had a practice of excessive force against people with mental illness or believed to have mental illness.

As part of a settlement, the city agreed to police reforms. Wednesday, commissioners debated whether to spend $315,000 every year to consultants who will monitor those reforms.

Those consultants are Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum and Dr. Amy Watson of Rosenbaum & Watson LLP of Chicago. They will be paid $240,000 yearly, with the extra money covering travel costs.

“This is the gold standard for this COCL (Compliance Officer and Community Liaison) or this oversight liaison person to hold our feet to the fire,” said mayoral spokesperson Dana Haynes.  “No other city, no other state is going to have a better team than the one we put together. This is the one every other city is going to compare themselves to.”

But the city is also appealing part of their own settlement agreement which requires them to appear in front of a judge once a year and update the judge on the progress of police reforms, spending money on the consultants and then spending more money on the appeal.

Rev. LeRoy Haynes Jr. of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, Jan. 7, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Rev. LeRoy Haynes Jr. of the Albina Ministerial Alliance, Jan. 7, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

“Nobody is blocking judge oversight,” said Haynes.  “People are telling other things out there and they know it’s not true.”

The city argues the appeal is about clarifications: how often they will appear in front of a judge and what evidence will be looked at.

“The judge has set the first hearing. It’s in September, we will be there,” Haynes said. “Never questioned it, never saying anything about him not having hearings, but we want two things clarified.”

That isn’t sitting well with those seeking the implementation of the police reforms. They believe city commissioners do not want to have to report to a judge and they call the appeal a step backwards in transparency and accountability.

“We have an opportunity to go forth and provide a model for the nation,” said Rev. LeRoy Haynes Jr. of the Albina Ministerial Alliance. “But we’re playing political games with the federal judge.”

 

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