Rosie Sizer MEMORANDUM April 16, 2007

April 16, 2007
TO: Gary Blackmer – City Auditor, Leslie Stevens – Director, Independent Police Review Division, Members of the Force Task Force
SUBJECT: Use of Force Report

READ – Rosie Sizer MEMORANDUM April 16, 2007, PDF

I am pleased to be able to share this report on use of force by Portland Police Bureau members with my organization and the community. The Portland Police Bureau began collecting data on use of force in August 2004. This report represents our first attempt to analyze the data and use it to inform our decision making. Data alone does not answer every question. In some cases, data merely serves to help us formulate the questions. But in this case, a careful consideration of the use of force data by thoughtful people led to 16 recommendations. As Portland Police Chief, I commit the organization to advancing the recommendations made by the committee.

I think it is important to highlight that this report examines use of force incidents. Use of force should not be viewed as synonymous with excessive force. Force is an occasional and unfortunate outcome of the work that we ask the men and women of the Portland Police Bureau to do. As the report describes, Portland officers apply force in less than 1% of all calls for service and 5% of total arrests.

It is the goal of the Portland Police Bureau that all members be capable of using effective and reasonable force when appropriate to protect the public, subjects, and officers. It is also the goal of the Portland Police Bureau that, when force is appropriate, members apply those reasonable and effective force options that carry lower risks of injury to subjects and officers. Many of the recommendations contained in the report are oriented toward continuing to develop best practices in how we manage force as an organization—our use of force policy, how we train our members, how we supervise around force issues, and how we investigate and review allegations of excessive force.

I would like to point out several facts related to the use of force by Portland Police Bureau members:

  • With this report, the Portland Police Bureau is one of only a few police departments that publicly reports on force.
  • The report shows that Portland Police officers are forthcoming with information about force incidents and, in fact, seem to be over-reporting.
  • The Police Bureau has agreed to work with the Michigan State University on a National Institute of Justice-funded study of force in eight American cities. The researchers intend to make recommendations regarding force policy nationally.

I would like to personally thank the citizen and Bureau members of the committee for the mature and thoughtful way they went about their work on this report. They brought a variety of perspectives to the analysis of data, but shared a commitment to the safety of the public, subjects and police officers.

I would like to particularly thank Independent Police Review Division Director Leslie Stevens for her leadership and hard work on this issue and on this report. Director Stevens provided both clear headed thinking and an ability to clearly articulate the unique perspective her position gives her. The Independent Police Review Division under her leadership is a national model for police oversight and a true partner in providing the most effective police services for the City of Portland.

    Chief of Police

    cc: Mayor Tom Potter
    Maria Rubio
    John Doussard