PORTLAND -- Portland Police Chief Mike Reese announced a policy change that will send a supervisor to incidents where officers have used prescribed levels of force, and prepare a report after interviewing those involved.
The chief said the change was recommended by the federal Department of Justice during an investigation into the Portland Police Bureau's use of force.
Reese described the changes as best practices used by departments nationwide, and recommended by the federal officials. They will take effect Jan. 15.
A supervisor will now be sent to incidents where an officer has caused a physical injury, a citizen has complained of a physical injury, or a citizen makes a complaint of excessive force at the scene. Those incidents are to be called a Force Event that requires a form to be filled out.
The policy does not include an officer pointing a firearm. It also does not include complaints after an incident has ended and officers have cleared the scene. In those cases, the complaints will be forwarded to the bureau's internal complaint systems, according to the directive Reese issued on Jan. 1.
The supervisor who arrives at the scene will speak with the officers involved, along with the citizen affected and witnesses. The interviews will be thorough enough to describe the nature of the force used and what the officer had to say about justification. Physical or photographic evidence will be collected.
The supervisor will prepare reports that provide an analysis and critique the incident, as well as any recommendations.
Reese said this policy should not lead to a crush in report writing.
It s important to note that out of the more than 400,000 citizen contacts made by Portland police officers each year, he said in a prepared statement, less than 1 percent, 0.25 percent to be exact, of these contacts results in a use of force event.
Reese described as paramount, the need to implement this policy. He said it creates the most professional and transparent manner possible in dealing with use of force issues.
The Seattle Police Department also was investigated by the Justice Department after complaints of racial bias and excessive use of force.
In that case, the federal agency issued a withering report that said, while the vast majority of Seattle officers used proper procedures, there was a pattern of bias and excessive force that was not being solved by the department.