Portland, Or., police have failed to conduct investigations of excessive force and other officer misconduct alleged by citizens in more than 100 claims, says the Oregonian. In an 18-month review of the city’s handling of tort claims describing police misconduct, the Independent Police Review Division wants the City Council to give it authority to scrutinize such cases automatically. Director Richard Rosenthal said city code prohibits his office from reviewing accusations of police misconduct raised in tort claim notices, unless the complainant also files a citizen’s complaint.
The review division says its proposal is similar to independent-review policies used by several police agencies, including in Seattle, Boise, and Los Angeles County. Mayor Vera Katz said the city would be “foolhardy” to give the police review division that kind of power. She said the proposed ordinance change would expose too much information to people suing the city and open taxpayers to increased financial liability. Katz noted that a new committee, comprised of a deputy city attorney, the mayor’s police liaison and an assistant chief, is reviewing every tort claim alleging police misconduct. The report notes that the committee’s actions are not subject to independent review. If an assistant chief refuses to take action against an officer, it isn’t recorded and can’t be tracked.