Who should analyze police misconduct? It’s time we take oversight out of cops’ hands. Police accountability experts ARE available.
In other posts, we describe the role of a Community Oversight Advisory Board (COAB), installed as part of a Federal Agreement that the City of Portland, Oregon eliminates illegal use of force in policing. Unfortunately, the prime influence on this body of political appointees and citizen volunteers have been the perpetrators of civil rights violations … and their agents. The City seeks to keep intact as much of what DoJ Findings (pg. 27) termed a ‘self-defeating accountability system’ as it can. In it’s second public meeting, COAB was encouraged to retain the very data analysis that has allowed civil rights violations to fester, unchecked.
Wide-ranging expertise on research methodology is available.
We’d like to introduce Dr. Tracie L. Keesee, Co-founder and Director of Research Partnerships for the Center for Policing Equity. We spoke last week with the recently appointed Project Director for the US Attorney General’s National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice.
Dr. Keesee indicated all she needed was an invitation, and she’d bring to Portland her considerable expertise. Her new appointment empowers a team to partner on research that “promotes police transparency and accountability, by facilitating innovative research collaborations between law enforcement agencies and empirical social scientists.”
In particular, Keesee wants COAB to know of resources available through the DoJ’s Office of Justice Programs’ Diagnostic Center. This government entity “works closely with communities to diagnose their unique public safety challenges and implement data-driven programs tailored to minimize future risks and enhance community strengths.”
In 2012 Consult Hardesty began what we thought would be a collaborative effort with Mayor Adams, to solicit Federal resources and inoculate The People against further civil rights violations. We’d like readers to know that the Feds’ Bureau of Justice Assistance also offers resources through their National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC). This grant program is designed to “replicate model programs and approaches; increase knowledge and use of best practices, emerging technologies, and proven strategies.” NTTAC will even help identify needs. It’s available to citizen advocates.
Here’s what’s at stake.
Portland police (PPB) benefit from an uninterrupted history of policing themselves. The absence of checks and balances in their self-exoneration system is a major, contributing factor to subsequent illegal conduct. COAB is being asked to perpetuate a significant, institutional relationship that lends credence to this police corruption. The City is gearing up to provide PPB with six additional data analysts. Instead of taking action to open racial profiling source data for broad, academic review, for instance; local authorities would prefer to keep data analysis in-house: to continue allowing cops to validate their own conduct.
In hiring a Compliance Officer Community Liaison (COCL) to liaise with COAB, the City refuted recommendations from a citizen-based Selection Committee (on which Jo Ann Hardesty served). The Mayor substituted consultants he lauded for “in-depth experience analyzing policing practices from across the country.” Data analysis is so important to Rosenbaum & Watson, LLP that a clause in their contract assures a future revenue stream: “Consultant shall be entitled to use the data collected and analyzed, including tables, charts, and research reports for publication in academic books, journal articles, lectures, or other presentations.”
Here’s what’s on offer.
The Agreement (Item 146) speeds COAB into surveying community experiences with, and perceptions of, PPB’s prior accountability efforts; to ascertain where those efforts could be improved. In May of last year, PPB planned to get a jump on accountability measures. Then-Chief Reese sought an open-ended contract of not less than $180,000 be offered to Dr. Brian Renauer, and Portland State University’s Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute (CJPRI). The purpose: to “provide analysis services to meet the requirements of the DOJ settlement agreement.”
The justification was bogus. Police plans failed when Jo Ann testified before City Council that the Agreement actually calls for survey development to be done in consultation with COAB … which did not form until January of this year.
The City (and COCL) plan to stymie reform.
On 12 March, COCL urged COAB to employ CJPRI to implement a PPB data analysis plan that has been waiting in the wings. COAB failed to martial eight favorable votes. We suspect – in the interim – COCL will not look to it’s national network for others with a capacity to do this work. It should be easy to find organizations not already in fiduciary relationship with the perpetrators of civil rights violations. We expect COCL will not liaise with COAB, but to merely lobby these citizen volunteers to align with PPB collaborators.
Instead of an independently established oversight body, the City wraps its arms around COAB, treating these community members as if they constitute one of their numerous advisory boards that have – for generations – propped up unconstitutional police patterns and practices. The City is likely to now be working their political appointees to rubber-stamp failed past practices. They need but one more vote to keep the status quo. It’s easier to get that vote than establish police accountability.
A call to Dr. Keesee is warranted.
Other PSU academics are also capable of a needed analysis: Karen Gibson, Urban Studies and Planning, and Leanne Serbulo, University Studies … award-winning authors of Black and Blue: Police-Community Relations in Portland’s Albina District … have published research far outside the PPB narrative. Dr. Ann Curry-Stevens directs PSU’s Center for Community-Initiated Research to Advance Racial Equity (CCIRARE). Dr. Curry-Stevens is not confined to racial analysis: she “aims to provide community groups with a visible and standardized pathway into Portland State University through which they can request research support.”
We here illustrate our concerns for further reliance on CJPRI.
We described only one element on an ongoing relationship between perpetrators and CJPRI. A three-year Federal grant (2014) to the City cycles more than a quarter million dollars to CJPRI. These researchers – backbone for Oregon’s Law Enforcement Contacts Policy and Data Review Committee (LECC) – have been feeding at the trough, analyzing ‘performance improvements’ “in partnership with Oregon law enforcement” since at least 2005. LECC goals (set by Oregon statute), “to ensure racial equity in law enforcement activities,” have not been met in fourteen years. Police simply analyze their data and report – stone-faced – that racial profiling continues unabated.
CJPRI’s influence has not only been insufficient to prevent civil rights violations: it has, at times, given legitimacy to those who violate our laws. CJPRI has gotten other City funding through PPB. Following the passage of the (never implemented) 2009 Police Plan to Address Racial Profiling, Renauer and his assistant Emily Covelli were to ascertain whether any benchmarks beside census data could influence racial profiling analysis. They researched for other variables as if to assert people of color are simply more criminal – or reckless – and therefore deserved over-policing. (Renauer and Covelli were unsuccessful at establishing benchmarks which could make racial profiling data seem less egregious.)
PPB and CJPRI collaborated in a 2014 report. Though two CJPRI recommendations had not been resolved by their employers, CJPRI data analysis in the main failed to get at the heart of the very civil rights violations for which COAB now seeks remedy. (CJPRI asserts we have a perception problem, not a policing problem: “Intensive patrol of areas can increase disproportionate contact with people of color. This does not mean that these techniques should be abandoned, but does reinforce the importance of a community-wide discussion …” pg. 37.)
In fact, it’s difficult to tell where CJPRI research leaves off and PPB aspirations take over. Contract language is problematic: it gives PPB authority to influence academic findings before they’re published. In 2013, CJPRI began a three-part contract, to pre-empt COAB and set ‘baselines’ for public perceptions on policing. We were shocked to find, in the first CJPRI report, “Recommendation 4: Increase the use of car and person cameras for officers and analysis of camera footage.” When Jo Ann confronted Renauer, as to whether the recommendation was drawn from their analysis, he allowed as it had not: body-worn cameras were on the Chief’s wish list. CJPRI merely put their seal of approval on an idea that in no way originated in their research.
CJPRI has a revolving door relationship with PPB. In 2008 Covelli (see above) became a CJPRI Research Assistant. In 2011 she simultaneously contracted with the City to “facilitate their Community Police Relations Subcommittee’s (CPRC) work on issues related to race and equity.” In 2013 Covelli was given a full-time job … as PPB training analyst. Serve the client well, and CJPRI can be a stepping stone to police employment. (Volunteering with CPRC can be lucrative as well: a Human Rights Commissioner appointed to chair that body also contracted with the City to deliver police training. This ‘cosy relationship’ helped keep the Human Rights Commission from dispassionate analysis of civil rights and local policing.)
UPDATE: PPB removed the HRC Chair from the above $50,000 contract. From the Oregonian: “When Hardesty and others questioned why the head of a city volunteer committee would get paid as a consultant, Turner chose to step aside from consideration for the post “to remove any appearance of impropriety.”
In February 2014, City Club of Portland chose Renauer to moderate the forum, ‘Policing the Police, Who’s holding whom accountable?” The CPRI Director saw it as an opportunity to ask the Director of the City’s ‘Independent’ Police Review Division the means necessary to offer commendations for police officers. Needless to say, Renauer was unable to get participants – including the police chief who contracted for his services – to answer the forum’s question. It was more important that participants massaged community perceptions than it was for Renauer to lead a frank discussion on police accountabiity.
It’s time to look beyond cronies for analysis.
COAB will convene on 2 April. One week later they’ll expose themselves to a Town Hall meeting. Getting beyond City plans – to have their deficient accountability infrastructure reinforced – will present a challenge to community volunteers: COCL and CJPRI are peers in police data analysis. They’ll seek … out of professional courtesy and shared experience of drawing revenue from the ‘monitoring police improvement’ game … to reinforce one another.
We encourage COAB to commission their own, independent research. The OJP Diagnostic Center‘s “methodical diagnostic approach includes identifying stakeholders, gauging the scope of community challenges, recognizing trends, establishing baselines, and determining which data points can be moved by implementation of data-driven strategies. The Center promotes the integration and translation of data, on what works, into enduring criminal justice and public safety solutions.” NTAAC offers COAB a “variety of programs and activities aimed at improving the criminal justice system’s response to people with mental illness.”
We can put folks in touch with Dr. Keesee. We hope COAB will insist on conducting a needs analysis that takes them beyond perpetrators’ influence.
“What can we expect when the subject of research is something as controversial, as downright divisive as race and discrimination, particularly in the United States? What can we expect if we add the ingredients of crime, discriminatory policing, [and] biased law enforcement? It requires significant intellectual and scientific honesty to realize our own limitations and acknowledge the very high degree by which our research is colored – pardon the pun – by our historical and social lenses.
It also demands a lot more work and effort to build a parallel bounty of resources and a theoretical arsenal to ask new questions, to re-hypothesize, to question the origins of not merely our conceptions and frameworks, but even the wording and, certainly, the “objective data” – crime reports and statistics, for instance – that underpins our sociological and cultural research.” – Controlling Variables into Meaninglessness, by Isabel Manuela Estrada Portales, Ph.D., Communications Specialist at National Institutes of Health
Thank you for all the background on the COCL and the CJPRI. I don’t see how any internal to PBB system can possibly work to ensure genuine accountability. If the COAB cannot impel the creation of truly independent analysis and oversight, I don’t see how it will be possible to have an effective implementation of the DOJ settlement agreement.
As they assess the implementation of the DOJ settlement, I hope the COAB members will have the good sense to focus on actual OUTCOMES (e.g., ending racial profiling and excessive use of force) and the data which indicate those outcomes, and not get lost in evaluating the process maze, instead. Continuing the tweaking of existing processes is not going to get us where we need to go.
Thank you, David and Jo Ann for this helpful recommendation and the obvious throught and time you put into it. Thank you Trudy Cooper for your input. Let me assure you, as I serve on the Data Systems, Use of Force, and Compliance subcommittee that will look at this with Sharon Maxwell, Tom Steenson and others… we will:
1. Soon request all the data we need to do our own independent analysis on-going of all incidents involving force.
2. Look very hard FIRST and FOREMOST at real-world outcomes and only then at the changes in policy, procedure, training, and approach,that they may imply.
3. Remain steadfastly independent. We will use police advice as appropriate, but we clearly understand that the People of our city require us to not only advise this process, but to provide them independent oversight, meaning we will call out both successes AND failures as the city, PPB, DoJ, and others perform this work with us.
4. Resist efforts by COCL to constrain us if/when the occur. Judge De Muniz has been very supportive in all regards and himself emphasized the importance of our independence. He is very much an ally in our drive to make real change. I did, myself, feel that Dr. Rosenbaum, while being quite reasonable in his wording and approach, tried to influence COAB to select PSU/CJPRI by suggesting that any other action would not only delay the process by 3 months, but that it would require COAB to take over the complete process from COCL. I voted against this and am looking at whether a true quorum was reached. If it was not, I will raise the point of order and request another vote. In the meantime, I would like to look at this and other options being researched by our members as further options as soon as possible and, if possible, before the next April 9 full COAB meeting, so that we have alternatives to present.
Thanks again, Bud Feuless
In 2013 (the year in which they stopped posting minutes), Judge DeMuniz became Chair of the LECC. CJPRI staff and consultants working with the LECC in 2013 included: Renauer, Covelli, and Damon Isaiah Turner (all referenced above, some compensated for this work).
To understand how to park and draw revenue amid unrelenting civil rights violations, I point you to 2011 LECC minutes: “The purpose of collecting stop and search data is not to prove or disprove racial profiling or racially biased policing. The best the data can do is examine disparity (i.e. when racial or ethnic groups experience greater traffic stops and searches than what is expected). Disparity does not prove or disprove the possibility of racially biased policing. We do not know the cause of disparity (but may be able to examine some correlates). Disparity analysis allows departments to periodically brainstorm about their tactics and strategies, question the causes of any disparity, and think about new or reinforced training on procedures and ethics. Disparity analysis is not meant to pass judgment; it is meant to facilitate discussion, analysis, reflection, and where desired action.” (Italics in the original.)
‘What is expected’ is an interesting concept, as it does not indicate who holds those expectations … victims, perpetrators or custodians of the Oregon Constitution. It seems LECC expects this ‘conversation starter’ to be confined to [police] departments who, given racist cultural bias Portlales refers to above, seem entirely content not to have implemented Chief Sizer’s 2009 Plan to Address Racial Profiling.
US Attorney for Oregon Amanda Marshall explained to Consult Hardesty that Federal civil rights investigators must demonstrate ‘intent,’ no matter what the data tells us. CRD Lead Trial Attorney Jonas Geissler reported to us that the DoJ has never used overwhelming disparities data to establish underlying intent. We do not think this precondition holds true for every single body which looks at continuing injustice … simply to measure it and collect a paycheck.
I am deeply grateful for the dedication and service to our community by exemplary and thorough study, energy, and wisdom shared by Consult Hardesty. Its my belief that your work is a model of citizenship that’s unmatched; and demands respect by all of us, especially by our leadership.
Consider, please, my personal request.
With light of the quantity of data over time, gathered so far; and most importantly due to the urgent cry for justice for ALL. Do prioritize our lives and well-being in a form such as this: let a designated period of time for discussing, reviewing, standards, haggling, and ensuing decisions continue by your inspiration, further study and in your wisdom. Only, however,for that time at minimum, let a moratorium, acquiescence, or binding agreement that public servants honor the people’s request to “lay down their arms”. For that period of time, honor these years of peaceful assembly wherein we have demonstrated our demands.
Let the officers who refuse to carry weapons volunteer to patrol our city. Let it be known far and wide, that Portland is a reasonable, peace loving city. Involve those churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, universities. Let the people step up, (money where mouth is?). (City $ can be used in effective ways eventually). Involve those gangs that cause us to tremble in our boots. Let them know that their members are valued and needed and then, have the guts to work among them, [activities, such as prizes for beautiful graffiti art, (that’s been destroyed as policy) for example.]
I’m humbly begging you now. Remember that history of humanity has proven, weapons won’t win civil societies. Fear is the only rat. The risk of revolution, rebellion, and radical behavior can’t hold a candle to reaching and relating in peace. I want to be proud of our legacy. That starts with YOU AND ME. NOW.
Respectfully, grandma Nan Wigmore
Thank you for taking the time to comment, Nan. In this post, ‘What’s to Say?‘ we tried to contrast classic forms of civil rights engagement with those more militant, arising in a new generation. Ultimately, we contend some analysis need be given to results: has non-violent expression led to reduction in harm, for people of color?
I’m an historian, with a penchant for mid-19th century Kentucky, and I push back on your assertion that “weapons won’t win civil societies.” By ending slavery, the American Civil War – violent and debilitating as it was – produced positive outcomes of some magnitude. I’m also aware that ‘peaceful assembly’ was in many cases intentional in ways that aimless marching is not: a distant uncle convened a state convention, successfully legislating changes to slavery in the Kentucky Constitution. A cousin was among others who self-organized a completely illegitimate convening and sent one delegation to the Otoe Peoples and a delegate to the U.S. Congress … ultimately opening Nebraska Territory for settlement.
I lament that Americans have sacrificed self-initiative in governance. The electorate has become merely reactionary in a counter-revolution so powerful it no longer need concern itself with ‘consent of the governed.’I contend the U.S. Constitution has been suspended by the Patriot Act, and that the foundation of the American experiment in democracy is in decay. Citizen passivity has opened a pathway for fascism. The same, violent initiative that rejected 18th century colonialism is now warranted, should we wish to preserve government ‘of the people, by the people and for the people.’
I concur with Dr. Cornel West, that African American assertion of their civil rights in the 1960s kept fascism at bay for a generation, that a military-industrial complex could not tamp down on civil liberties while so much of the nation was drawn into demands for Constitutional protections. Standing now for racial justice would be in the best interests of all who now seek to dethrone international corporations’ control of Congress and lawmaking.
Racism in Oregon has, since statehood, been intentionally structured and re-enforced. It is not the result of well-meaning people, having failed to getting ’round to eliminating it. We’ve done deep analysis of the levers which might engender change in racist policing and find at each (pre-hire screening, training, officer evaluation and promotion) the configuration refutes public influence. When those with a background in policing are elected to the state legislature, both parties place them on Judiciary, where they inhibit reform: regressive police policies are intentional results.
We believe in public dialogue. It may be time to ask ‘peace at all cost’ advocates to defend that position … in the face of unremitting, race-based denial of equal access to law. I suggest reading Nonviolence as Compliance, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Polite Portland can march in circles, yelling at empty buildings, without effecting political change. Authorities fear broad-based militancy and the destruction of property of those who financed their ascent to power. Fear can foster justice in ways enlightenment has failed to bring about.
I m saying peaceful DISobedience. dis, dis. Do not obey orders that are unfair or restraining our rights. The secret being in numbers. Trust in our own ideals.
I’m saying…let the people police ourselves! We do not need weopons, I believe. We are more innovative and creative in our unity. That flash bang to control rabble rousers, we know is not intended to blind and deafen us! Let us tremble and run, is the primary purpose. But I say only fear can do that.
Organize in common cause. Don’t let our culture or history divide us, either. We are simply better than hate and fear. Our strength is within our core value for life and justice within the heart and trust in our courage. “Polite Portland” when I am marching, may reach a few perplexed folks on sky scrape rooftops, but my peace signs and calls are to those street corner curious, uncertain ones who say that “I had no idea” and to the angry who feel frustration as they head somewhere “important” to them. Walking in the street, listening to one another, opens doors. Those who stop to ask questions. One by one, I think that’s how we are organizing. That is the reason I asked the young black man his thoughts for my new Black Lives…poster. HIS words made him proud and he beamed, aware that he was participating in something that was really important to him. And it draws attention because it speaks his perspective that “HANDS UP” implies cooperation, “DO NOT SHOOT” STATES AN ORDER, AND that BLACK POWER means a very important individual issues the command.
I’m learning and still open to other positions.
Planned police reaction to our actions are way ahead of our disorganization, of course. Our own strategic, fearless preparation does not include mindless marching as you point out. My concept, that DISobedience en masse, as in quality martial art, will lead to flow with the brutal force, let it keep coming, and let our own core muscle be our strength. Toss adversaries on behind us and continue moving forward. Just do not get caught up in the fear wherin our oppressors assume we will use violence, ourselves. I saw fear in the hatred of those military eyes. Let THEIR FEAR CONSUME THEM. NOT OURS. We just keep moving as our own confidence and trust in one another builds. The last sentence in your 3rd paragraph is key. If we want black power, we will draw ourselves together because justice for ALL has no place in destruction of some. Yes, there will be pepper spray and worse. We have more than enough resistance and creative resilience among us.
Witness the heroism that drove our convictions to justice in stories, views and patriotic battle cries described by the songs of David ROVICS’s CD. “People’s History in Song- TROUBADOR”. ( i’m recalling John Brown, among them) pondering those, right now.
I’ve been influenced by ancient human interaction.
Thanks, I’ll read the book. “NONVIOLENCE AS COMPLIANCE,” by Ta Nehisi Coates. I’m open to learning and paradigm shifting. I think that’s hard, but I’m old enuf, I hope. Thanks for your wise words,
Affectionately, nan Wigmore
I want to say that I was deeply impressed by Malcomb X in his evolutionary leadership. I love that guy.
The leaders who have made tremendous changes are among those who die well before their work is finished, some say. I’m not always sure. He changed my life, above all with his willingness to be changed and then step up as he believed.
Grandma was Missouri racist, my parents were reverse racists, so I have 2 “God brothers” whom I never met. Mom and dad forgot to introduce us.
I sort in my own way by stumbling around, trying to find my true black kinfolk. Lots of mistakes. Hopefully my kids just take everybody as they come. I try to be nonjudgmental, long ago discovering judgment of my own belly button, not certain of yours.
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