PPB Excessive Force Agreement

The country is looking to see what will come next in Portland’s efforts to deal with police brutality. The city of Portland and the Oregon Department of Justice have reached agreement on several changes to bring the city back into compliance with the demands of a 2014 settlement designed to curb police use of excessive force. According to court documents, a judge directed the parties to return to mediation, all involved have reached a pact that will go before City Council for a vote. 

The original settlement followed a federal investigation that found Portland officers used excessive force against people with mental illness. It called for widespread changes to use-of-force and Taser policies, training, supervision and oversight, a restructuring of police crisis intervention services and speedier investigations into alleged police misconduct.

In April, the Justice Department issued a formal notice to the city that it had failed to meet key reforms under the settlement, citing inappropriate police use and management of force during 2020′s racial justice protests, inadequate training and subpar supervision by higher-ups. The Justice Department then outlined nine steps the city should take to meet the settlement terms, which included a body-camera program. Both higher-ranking officers and rank-and-file officers would be held accountable for improper use of force during protests, while the Justice Department would have final approval of body camera policies.

In November, some community activists who have been parties to the settlement the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform and the Mental Health Alliance had expressed concern in court that amendments to the settlement didn’t ensure that the Police Bureau will bar officers from previewing the camera footage before giving a statement to investigators after using deadly force.

The newest clause added says: “The Parties affirm the obligation in this Agreement … to investigate any sworn member if, during the investigations of Lieutenants and above … information is discovered suggesting that any sworn member may have violated PPB policy or this Agreement.” The city would adopt whichever plan the Justice Department deems acceptable.