For the past three years, outside consultants, Portland’s city auditor, federal juries, and a citizens’ oversight panel have sent the same message to Portland police: rein in officers’ use of the Taser stun gun and limit the cycles of electrical shock that officers can fire, The Oregonian reports. Dave Woboril, a deputy city attorney, lectured officers during annual refresher training about evolving federal case law, including recent rulings that are more restrictive than Portland’s police Taser policy. Woboril also prepared rough drafts of revised Taser policies for the chief’s review.
Portland Police Chief Mike Reese, who sought citizen input on the bureau’s Taser policy for more than a year, has let the policy stand with few changes. Instead, the chief in March 2011 equipped officers’ Taser guns with a longer dart, allowing officers to shoot the less-lethal weapon from farther away, after a spate of officer-involved shootings. It wasn’t surprising last week when the U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Portland police engage in excessive and unjustified use of Tasers against people with mental illness. The department found a pattern of officers firing multiple cycles of Taser shock unnecessarily, and failing to wait between cycles to allow a suspect to comply with commands. “There is a sense of deja vu,” said David Fidanque of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.