Auditor questions police racial profiling progress before budget vote
The Portland Police Bureau has made some progress responded to charges of racial profile in two previous audits, but has more work to do, according to two updates released by the City Auditor's Office on Monday, May 20.
The updates were released two days before the City Council is scheduled to vote on Mayor Ted Wheeler's recommended budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1. Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty is expected to propose disbanding the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which was in the previous audits when it was called the Gang Enforcement Team.
The previous audits documented that a disproportionate percent of the traffic stops and other one-on-one contacts conducted by GET members were African-American. The audits also raised questions about the list of known gang members and associates maintained by the Portland Police Bureau.
After the audits were released, the bureau restructured GET to focus on all gun crimes, renaming it GVRT in the process.
In the year since our audit of the Gang Enforcement Team, the Police Bureau has made some progress in implementing our four recommendations for
investigations," one update said. "The Bureau discontinued the most active list, for which it had no policy and few safeguards. The Gang Enforcement Team also improved its case management but needs to publicly report results."
The bureau also pledged to better justify and analyze traffic stops to reduce the appearance of racial profiling.
In the year since our audit of the Gang Enforcement Team, the Police Bureau has made some progress in implementing our five recommendations for
patrol," the other update said. "Substantial work remains in documenting the investigative reasons for traffic stops and setting goals for the effectiveness of stops."
Regardless of what it's called, the auditor's office and the bureau disagree over how to measure the disproportionate impact of the team's work. The original audits compared the demographics of those stopped to the demographics of people injured in traffic crashes and crime victims. The bureau subsequently analyzed the demographics of people stopped by GET officers to the demographics of gang crime victims.
According to the bureau's analysis, the percentage of African-Americans stopped was below the percentage of African-American that the bureau
considered as victims of gang crime.
"A good benchmark reflects who is at risk of being stopped, assuming no bias. We encourage the Bureau to include these comparisons in its analyses," the update said.
You can find the full updates at http://www.portlandoregon.gov/auditservices .