This morning’s Oregonian brought the news that, at the second of what are scheduled to be three City Council meetings on the proposed Agreement between the City and the U.S. Department of Justice regarding steps taken to reduce the pattern of brutality by municipal police officers in their interactions with citizens, “it’s clear there’s no support, at this point, from city or federal officials for an independent civilian panel to investigate Portland police” [this from p. B2 of Friday, November 9, 2012 Oregonian: perhaps the link will be available at some later time, because it isn’t so far].
From the context it is not explicit that those are Mayor Adams’ words, but the article quotes him both before and after this statement. In contrast, of course, it is quite clear that there’s quite an abundance of community support for exactly that, an independent civilian panel with police oversight. That is what police accountability comes down to, for citizens threatened by a brutal police force.
Yesterday, for example, the Citizen Review Committee heard from a woman who was arrested in her own home, without a warrant; the police spokespeople admitted that entering the home without either a warrant or permission from the resident was against the legal protection of the resident. But that wasn’t the complaint: on suspicion of having violated a restraining order against having contact with her own mother, who was in the custody of a guardian, she was being arrested; she was so intimidated by police entering her home, without a warrant, while she was in her nightgown, that she defecated on herself.
The police would not let her clean herself up; she was hauled off in that state to jail.
Mary Beth Baptista, the director of the Independent Police Review Board, said that the police could not let a woman go into her own bathroom to clean herself up, unescorted; bathrooms are full of dangerous objects (razor blades, I suppose). And the police had no female officer among them.
I won’t even comment further; that’s the sort of argument that produces a 5 to 2 vote of Exoneration of police brutality these days; that’s why there’s quite a lot, and there will remain a lot, of community support for a truly independent civilian review board providing oversight of the Portland police.