Mayor Hales and Commissioners Fish, Fritz, Novick and Saltzman:
The AMA Coalition for Justice and Police Reform now seriously questions the City’s resolve to implement the DOJ Agreement to reduce Portland Police Use of Force. Just two weeks after defying the unanimous voices of community members who urged you not to file an appeal of Judge Simon’s annual hearings, Council announced that it would, despite the advice of your appointed citizen advisory committee, choose the one applicant for the Compliance Officer position that advisory committee rejected.
The Coalition was part of the COCL selection process from early on, when the Request for Proposal was drawn up in January and February this year, as the incoming applications were screened and narrowed, and at the public presentations and interviews with the finalists. The Agreement called for such a process and it is true that the City followed the letter of the Agreement.
But the spirit of the Agreement is that, as Commissioner Fritz stated on October 22, the community should have the final say in whether the police reforms are completed in a meaningful way. That’s why it comes as a surprise at the end of this very long process to engage the community that the Council then decides to turn around and do the opposite of what was recommended. The main concern of the interviewers was having a COCL who has a sensibility to the day-to-day operations, so they did not even forward on Dennis Rosenbaum to the Council for consideration. The publicly posted comments from the interview sessions reflect this consensus.
So here we are just a little more than two months into the formal implementation of the Agreement and the City has already taken the stand that the community’s input is not important, in contrast to the Portland way of having community input to shape the decision making of the Council. Even though the upcoming process to seat the Community Oversight Advisory Board will rely partly on the community, we urge Council to rethink its position on both the appeal and the COCL decisions.
We signed a Collaborative Agreement with the City in which we pledged to oppose any efforts to weaken the Settlement Agreement. We’re seeing these actions as a sign of such efforts.
Of course, whatever your decision is we will keep fighting for justice and police reform. It will just be a lot easier if we are working together to achieve those goals rather than needing to argue with the City at every turn.
Dr LRoy Haynes, Jr & Dr T Allen Bethel
for the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform