Police Reform Network Letter on Portland Police Association Contract

For a Fair Police Contract That Serves the Public

We, the undersigned, call upon the City Council and the Chief of Police to keep the needs of the community at the center of upcoming contract negotiations with the Portland Police Association (PPA). Many provisions of the current PPA contract create barriers for an effective oversight system for complaints and for disciplining officers for excessive use of force or bias.

 

A Public and Transparent Contract Process, True Police Accountability

As the City prepares for and begins to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with the PPA, City officials must be clear about the intended timeline for negotiations AND the timeline for setting the city’s bargaining priorities. Bargaining priorities should be set through a public process involving the entire City Council with numerous opportunities for community members to provide meaningful input.

Many provisions of the current PPA contract make it extremely difficult to discipline officers for excessive use of force, racial bias, or other forms of bias-based policing. These provisions must be changed. When police violate the deep trust the community has placed in them they should face real consequences, up to and including termination.

 

Why Portland Should Improve its Police Association Contract Now: Brutal Attacks and Lack of Trust

From April 2018 to July 2019 alone, Portland Police Bureau officers killed eight people, shot at several more, and launched severe assaults on unarmed demonstrators. This city needs a contract that guarantees true accountability for use of excessive force. National research is clear: contracts that include the following proposed changes reduce instances of police violence and make the city safer for residents and for police.[1]

Lack of public trust in the police is a serious reality in Portland; a contract that enforces community standards is a key component of rebuilding public trust. We support public employees’ right to negotiate good working conditions.  As public employees with authority to use deadly force, police occupy a unique position. Studies show that a contract which holds officers accountable can lead to improved safety rates for officers themselves, which we would in turn expect to improve officer morale.[2]

 

Specific Changes We Demand:

Improve Portland’s Ineffective System of Civilian Oversight:

• Deadly force: An independent civilian agency must have explicit jurisdiction in deadly force cases.
• Meaningful power: An independent civilian agency needs the ability to compel testimony and recommend discipline.
• Equal treatment: In misconduct investigations, the officer being investigated should not have special privileges the public does not have.

Hold Officers Accountable for Excessive Force or Bias-Based Policing:  The City must be able to fire officers who have used excessive force or exhibited racism or other oppression against targeted communities. Provisions in the current contract severely limit the scope of misconduct investigations and narrowly restrict how discipline is handled. 

Institute Comprehensive Mandatory Drug Testing: Require mandatory drug testing including steroids after officers use force on the public. 

Fix the Public Complaint Process: The public should be able to make complaints without the offending officer having access to their name and information.

 

Signed,

 

Unite Oregon

Portland NAACP

League of Women Voters of Portland

Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform

Portland Copwatch

Portland Jobs with Justice

Sisters of the Road

DSA Portland

Portland’s Resistance

Portland United Against Hate

350PDX

Portland Metro People’s Coalition

BerniePDX

Portland Forward

Showing Up for Racial Justice

Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

People’s Law Project

As the Spirit Moves Us

First Unitarian Portland

Portland UnShul

Portland Buddhist Peace Fellowship

Oregon Board of Rabbis

Interfaith Clergy Resistance

 

Want to learn more about this letter? Is your organization interested in signing on? Please contact Andrew Riley, Communications and Policy Associate at Unite Oregon! andrew@uniteoregon.org or (503) 936-9430.

 

Footnotes

[1] Sinyangwe, Samuel, “Examining the Role of Use of Force Policies in Ending Police Violence” (September 20, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2841872 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2841872

[2] See preceding citation, as well as Perez, Douglas, Common Sense About Police Review (April 14th, 1994).

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