Hillsboro mulls police review akin to nixed Portland model
Officials in Hillsboro are holding a work session Tuesday, Dec. 1, to discuss the possibility of forming an independent police oversight body.
The work session will begin immediately after the Hillsboro City Council's regular session at 6 p.m. ends.
Police reform advocates have been increasing pressure on cities around the country to develop such oversight bodies since May's police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
During the work session, the City Council will review existing police oversight structures, outcomes of past use-of-force incidents and the role of the Hillsboro Police Officers' Association in the disciplinary process of union officers, the city said in a statement Wednesday, Nov. 25.
The city's policing work group, which was formed this summer, will "present four civilian police oversight models, make recommendations for oversight improvements, and propose a long-term strategy to increase community engagement with a focus on historically marginalized communities," the city said.
The first proposed oversight structure would allow the formation of a board made up of citizens, who would investigate allegations of police misconduct and make recommendations directly to the chief of police.
The model could enable multiple members of the community to bring varying perspectives to investigations.
Such boards are often restricted to investigating specific cases of misconduct rather than focusing on broader questions of policy, according to a staff report the city produced ahead of the meeting.
The staff report said this model can be the most costly to implement and can result in the duplication of efforts by the department's internal affairs units.
The second structure would maintain police officers as investigators of allegations of misconduct, but officers would develop findings to be reviewed by a group of citizens. The citizens would recommend the chief of police approve or reject the findings of the investigation.
While the model also allows citizens to bring varying perspectives to investigations, it is often limited to determining whether or not the police review of a specific incident was conducted fairly, the staff report said.
The third structure would empower an agency or individual such as an auditor to engage in all of the steps of the department's existing complaint process.
According to the staff report, the model's strength is that such agencies or auditors are able to address systemic issues and seek to create accountability within the police department for eliminating problems and abuses rather than focusing on individual complaints.
Its weakness is that it typically involves using a policing expert, who is often not required to consult with the community, to provide oversight.
The fourth structure would create a panel tasked with reviewing and recommending policy to the chief of police. It could also be involved in the hiring processes of the department.
Panels often review individual complaints to recommend policy, according to the staff report.
A weakness of the model is that such panels often rely on the expertise and credibility of an existing oversight practitioner, the staff report said.
The city's proposed structures are based on information from the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement.
Earlier this month, voters in Portland dissolved an existing police oversight board and created a new one by an overwhelming margin — more than 80% of the vote.
Portland's new board will be made up of diverse community members, who cannot be employed by law enforcement or have immediate family members employed by law enforcement.
The new board will have the authority to subpoena documents, compel officers under investigation to testify and share investigative findings with the public. It will also have the power name officers being investigated, discipline or terminate officers.
The Portland Police Bureau's labor union, the Portland Police Association, opposed the measure and said much of it was illegal.
Details about how to participate or provide public comments in Hillsboro's meeting Tuesday can be found on the city's website.
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