Community Engaged Policing Committee Meets for the First Time
The newly formed Portland Committee on Community Engaged Policing (PCCEP) met for their first public meeting on Wednesday, November 28th.
The mayor-appointed committee met to establish their bylaws, elect officers of the committee, share information about a city wide survey, and share their group values with the public. Many community members were in attendance from various organizations as well as Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Danielle Outlaw.
The committee is composed of 13 community members whose reasons for volunteering their time ranged from their own experiences with police brutality and acknowledging the fragmented relationship between the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and communities of color. Specifically the PPB’s interactions with those who suffer from mental health issues.
There are 8 adult seats to serve 2 year terms, 3 adult seats for 1 year terms, and 2 youth seats for 9 month terms. An alternate pool will be available in the case that any members withdraw from the committee.
The formation of PCCEP was a requirement of the current settlement between the Department of Justice and the City of Portland. The settlement stems from an 18-month long investigation conducted by the DOJ in 2012. “We find reasonable cause to believe that PPB engages in a pattern or practice of unnecessary or unreasonable force during interactions with people who have or are perceived to have mental illness,” the investigation found. PCCEP serves as a replacement for the Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB) which ended in 2017, and had previously been the way the public could provide their input on the settlement.
The PCCEP’s mission statement is as follows:
“The PCCEP’s mission is to work with the Mayor/ Police Commissioner, Portland Police Bureau (PPB), and Portland’s diverse constituencies to solicit and exchange information between the community and the PPB to achieve the desired outcomes of equitable policing which exceeds constitutional requirements, and meaningful community engagement with and trust in PPB.”
Throughout the duration of the meeting community members were given the opportunity to speak during a public comment period established by the agenda, and at times chimed in freely.
The committee members emphasized their hopes for transparency. Many community members echoed that hope during public comment advising the committee to alter their bylaws resulting in transparency on the stipend the committee members receive from the city, the committee’s rules on engaging with the media, having a large alternate pool, and an extension for the youth committee members term.
Representatives from DHM research gave a presentation on the PPB survey being conducted to collect data on Portland citizens interactions with police.
They encouraged the PCCEP to provide feedback for the survey. The survey consists of roughly 40 questions and it utilizes a random participant selection. Community members were skeptical about the effectiveness of the survey and its ability to reach communities of color. They also expressed concerns about the survey’s ability to reach homeless individuals, since the survey requires a random selection based on an individual’s home address.
As a precursor to the meeting the Mental Health Alliance hosted an info session for the public about the settlement agreement providing a “detailed item-by-item understanding of the settlement agreement, which has been the basis for reform of the Portland Police Bureau since 2014.”
While the committee engaged in a refreshing act of democracy at their first public meeting they were met with skepticism and many warnings from community members who have been in a long battle with this issue.