Was it good that The United States and the city of Portland, Ore., announced today that they have reached a preliminary agreement to make changes to Portland Police Bureau policies, practices, training and supervision.
The United States and the city of Portland, Ore., announced today that they have reached a preliminary agreement to make changes to Portland Police Bureau policies, practices, training and supervision. This agreement was reached following a comprehensive investigation. Together with the agreement, the Justice Department today announced its findings that the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has engaged in an unconstitutional pattern or practice of excessive force against people with mental illness. The Justice Department delivered a letter detailing the findings to Portland Mayor Sam Adams and Police Chief Michael Reese, who were cooperative throughout the department’s investigation.
The investigation, launched on June 8, 2011, and conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon, focused on whether PPB engages in unconstitutional or unlawful policing through the use of excessive force, with a particular interest in the use of force against people with mental illness or in mental health crisis. While the Justice Department found that most uses of force by PPB officers was lawful and reasonable, it also found reasonable cause to believe that PPB engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, in certain contexts.
“We are gratified by the city’s response, especially the response of Chief Reese and Mayor Adams, to our findings. While our investigation has revealed that inadequate systems of supervision and oversight and the absence of specialized training have permitted particular use of force violations to persist at the Portland Police Bureau, we are confident that the steps already taken and those contained in our tentative agreement will provide meaningful and sustainable reform.” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
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