Citizens group shares 'policy solutions' for crowd control
The Citizen Review Committee Crowd Control & Use of Force Workgroup has released a set of recommendations on how to change the police response to protests in Portland.
As protests continued in 2020, the group started conducting surveys in an attempt to put the public's perspective on the protests and police response into words.
"We surveyed the community in a really tense time," said Candace Avalos, chair of the Citizen Review Committee. "This was comprised of community voices."
The workgroup generated recommendations based on what it heard from the public with a focus on equipment use, de-escalation and bias in training. "There are real policy solutions to these things so we want that to be taken seriously," Avalos said.
The group's recommendations include permanently banning the use of CS gas by police and extending the ban to include other chemical weapons, as well as creating a plan to mitigate the risks to public health and the environment if those weapons are used.
"That was one big complaint that came out, that it was affecting many bystanders — people who were not engaged in any criminal activity and were just there to express their First Amendment rights were affected by that," said Avalos. "It also affected people in their homes and the houseless community."
The report also recommends that officers opt to wear ordinary patrol uniforms or clothing that "does not suggest the expectation of violence or combat."
"Having ordinary patrol uniforms instead of these paramilitary uniforms that have all these gadgets and look very threatening that automatically escalate the situation," Avalos said.
The workgroup also recommends an increase in anti-bias training hours with a focus on community review.
"Have those things being vetted by actual community members — not just have police training police on things that aren't necessarily their expertise or experience," Avalos said.
Avalos said the Crowd Control & Use of Force Workgroup will present its findings to the Portland City Council on Sept. 22. She said the public is welcome to attend the meeting.
The report can be found here.
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