A team of academics hired by Portland to oversee the city’s settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on police reforms has found the Police Bureau in “substantial compliance” with every paragraph of the agreement.
According to Dennis Rosenbaum and his team, their rating of “substantial compliance” means the city and police have adopted systems of review and organizational changes to address problem trends, with new approaches to auditing and training. A judge approved the settlement in 2014 after a federal Justice investigation found police engaged in excessive force against people with mental illness and fired multiple cycles of Taser gun shocks unnecessarily.
U.S. District Judge Michael Simon will make the final ruling when all parties to the case return to his court Feb. 25. The court retains oversight until a judge finds that the city has substantially complied with the agreement for one year. In June, Simon said he wanted assurances that the city’s new community group charged with overseeing police reforms is effective.
Rosenbaum found that the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing “is functioning as a legitimate body for community engagement,” despite its sparse attendance.
“In sum, we believe this group is engaging effectively with the community and PPB and has the authority to hold the PPB accountable for tactics and strategies linked to public trust,” Rosenbaum wrote.
Since the settlement agreement, the reforms to the bureau’s deadly force policy and training haven’t resulted in a decrease in police shootings of people in mental health crisis, said Dan Handelman, of the police watchdog group Portland Copwatch.