PPB 'in compliance' with DOJ settlement agreement
After six years of efforts by the Portland Police Bureau, the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday the bureau is "in substantial compliance" with the terms of a negotiated agreement to reduce excessive force against the mentally ill.
Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Jami Resch held a press conference Friday afternoon to discuss the announcement. Before that, in a prepared statement, Resch said, "The key focus of the Settlement Agreement is on police response to people experiencing mental illness or mental health crisis, but the reforms include much more. Achieving substantial compliance took years of hard work and many changes in policies and training, as well as improvements in areas related to force, community engagement, and accountability."
The City of Portland settled with the Department of Justice and agreed to change the way it trains its officers on how to use force, specifically when it comes to dealing with people in mental health crisis, several years ago.
"PPB shall revise its existing use of force policy and force reporting requirements to ensure that all force, particularly force involving persons with actual or perceived mental illness: (a) is used only in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the United States; (b) is no greater than necessary to accomplish a lawful objective; (c) is properly documented, reported, and accounted for; and (d) is properly investigated, reviewed, evaluated, and, if necessary, remedied," the agreement says.
The PPB-DOJ settlement agreement defines "use of force" as meaning any physical coercion used to effect, influence, or persuade an individual to comply with an order from an officer, above unresisted handcuffing, including actively pointing a firearm at a person.
It also states: "PPB shall ensure that officers use non-force and verbal techniques to effect compliance with police orders whenever feasible, especially in the course of conducting welfare checks or effecting arrests for minor offenses or for persons whom officers have reason to believe are experiencing a mental health crisis; de-escalate the use of force at the earliest possible moment; only resort to those use of force weapons, including less-lethal weapons, as necessary; and refrain from the use of force against individuals who are already under control by officers, or who may express verbal discontent with officers but do not otherwise pose a threat to officers or others, or impede a valid law enforcement function."
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can find their story with video here.
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