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Council to consider police reform agreement

The City Council will consider an agreement with a police watchdog group Wednesday as part of its settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegation the police have used excessive force against the mentally ill.

The union representing rank-and-file police officers has not reached any such agreement with the city and the justice department, however, meaning the case could go to trial in federal court later this summer.

The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform has agreed to support a proposed settlement between the city and justice department in exchange for greater public participation in several proposed changes to the Portland Police Bureau.

Specifically, the AMA supports more public participation in three elements of the proposed settlement — the hiring of a Compliance Office, the hiring of a Community Liaison, and the appointment of a Community Oversight Board.

A resolution to be consider Wednesday says, "The AMA, City, and United States agree that the proposed Settlement Agreement makes important systemic changes and reforms with the Portland Police Bureau and other City bureaus. The parties also agree additional measures can further those reforms."

The Portland Police Association has not agreed to support the settlement, however. Union leaders argue it mandates changes that are covered in the union contract and subject to collective bargaining. In a June 10 press release, the union said it attempted to reach an agreement with the city on the proposed changes, but was unable to resolve the differences.

"Our collective bargaining concerns are not insignificant. They are focused on safety, workload issues, and training concerns, that until fully satisfied prevent is from lending our unconditional support to the settlement agreement."

In response to the breakdown, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon, who is overseeing the case, said he will set it for trial next summer.

Mayor Charlie Hales says the one-year delays is enough time to reach agreement with the union.

"Both the Justice Department and the public are expecting us to change practices in our Police Bureau," Hales said in a July 18 release. "We are doing so, and will continue to do so, because they are the right things to do. I believe that, by setting a potential trial date a year in the future, the court is expressing trust in our continued focus and action."