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An outside group will probe a Portland Police Bureau leak that falsely accused Hardesty of fleeing a fender-bender.

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty spoke to the press in May 2020. The city of Portland will pay $50,000 to consultants investigating the unauthorized leak of a preliminary police investigation that falsely tied Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to a hit-and-run crash in East Portland.

City officials released the dollar amount of the contract with the OIR Group in response to a public records request.

Reached for comment, Hardesty described OIR as "an organization I trust."

"That's why they have the full support of myself and Mayor Wheeler to lead this investigation," she said. "I've also ensured the OIR group (has) had conversations with experts on police culture and right-wing extremism for additional guidance. Those conversations have gone well and have increased my trust and belief that they are ready to take this on and produce results our community can trust."

OIR made headlines in December after completing a review into the West Linn Police Department's unlawful arrest of Michael Fesser — a Black Portlander who was racially targeted by then West Linn Police Chief Terry Timeus as a crooked favor to a friend.

The seven-month probe, which found fault with West Linn Police's "gap-riddled" internal review and a local City Council that was kept in the dark, was completed in December. The West Linn inquiry's price was set to cost somewhere between $12,000 and $50,000, though the city now says the bill ended up being for $49,450.

In Portland's case, the City Attorney's office approved the price tag and paperwork. OIR Group, a California-based consultancy that specializes in police matters, already has been retained by the City Auditor's office for a number of years to conduct independent investigations, usually of police shootings.

"That means they come 'pre-approved' for the city's system and have met all the requirements to work with the city," said Tim Becker, a spokesman for Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Hardesty's office previously noted that she supports the OIR Group's broadened mandate to examine the leak and potential racial and political bias within the Portland Police Bureau, as well as the department's resistance to change.


Zane Sparling
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