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Commissioner Hardesty says the proposed independent police oversight board would have the power to discipline or fire Portland police officers.

COURTESY - Measure 26-217, known as Yes for Real Police Accountability, will go to the voters on Nov. 3, 2020. Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty predicts her police reform measure will face lawsuits aplenty if approved at the ballot box during the November election.

Hardesty told reporters she expects a "huge fight from the police union," and acknowledged the measure requires changes to state law and the Portland Police Bureau union contract, but said the proposal heeds the call chanted by thousands during the past 100 days of protests inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

"I have no fear of lawsuits, because this is a legally sound document," said Hardesty during a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 22. "The community does not want tinkering — they want transformation."

Measure 26-217, known as Yes on Real Police Accountability, would create a new independent community oversight board overseeing the police bureau, replacing the current Independent Police Review board.

The measure would amend the city charter to create the board, which would have the power to impose discipline or fire police officers and their supervisors.

"In fact, the (police) chief will be disciplined if the chief refuses to implement the discipline," Hardesty said.

The board could also compel testimony from officers or other witnesses, subpoena documents and access police records while investigating complaints, in-custody deaths, use of deadly force, injuries, discrimination and constitutional rights violations.

The new board would be restricted to costs of "no less" than 5% of the police bureau budget, and would be comprised of members from diverse communities with lived experiences of systemic racism, mental illness, addiction or alcoholism.

City Hall would appoint an interim commission to flesh out the administrative procedures of the board — such as term limits and its size — to be approved by the City Council prior to beginning operations.

Hardesty said the timing was perfect for reform, noting that bargaining over police union contract changes will start up again in January, and said lawmakers will either meet in Salem for a December special session or during the regular session in 2021.

"What works for Portland is not necessarily going to work for Pendleton, so we need to take a localized approach," said former state House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, who is currently a consultant for the ACLU, which endorsed the measure.

Hardesty said nothing in the proposal prevents current members of the Independent Police Review from applying to the new board, but it may be "challenging to retrain people." Three members of the IPR resigned within 24 hours earlier this month, according to OPB.

Hardesty was joined at the press conference by Maria Cahill of Pacific Northwest Family Circle, as well as Rev. E.D. Mondainé and Rev. Dr. Leroy Haynes.

The political action committee supporting the measure has received more than $10,000 in donations and currently has $6,000 on hand, according to state records.


Zane Sparling
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