PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After the City of Portland and the Portland Police Association reached a new tentative collective bargaining agreement, those involved in the negotiations held a question and answer session for the public on Thursday.
The city council must still vote on the contract but two of the people who were involved in the negotiations explained what the public can expect out of the new contract.
The negotiators were part of the public question and answer session. Many people wanted to know how the new contract would hold police accountable.
“One thing that the public was calling for was greater accountability for those types of misconduct that are serious,” Heidi Brown, chief deputy city attorney, said.
Brown says accountability is something that negotiators tried to make sure was in the new contract. Specifically, changing the “discipline guide” to include automatic termination for some types of conduct – something that wasn’t in the old agreement.
“You don’t have a category E that is automatic termination under the existing discipline guide,” Brown explained. “We tried to make it clearer so that everybody understood what types of conduct would fall in different categories and to move things up in the level of suspension and discipline that was going to be meted out for those more egregious types of misconduct.”
Under category “E”, some of the conduct listed included conduct in violation of one or more city or bureau policies that involve things like : a felony crime conviction, domestic violence, intentional misuse of police authority based on protective status, or out of policy use of deadly force.
City of Portland’s lead negotiator Steven Schuback explained “this discipline guide is a completely new issue for bargaining and having gone through that process was really a paramount win, for both parties, but really for the city to have that accountability, that tied to an oversight board, and the new legislation, all work together. It’s going to be pivotal change on how things are resolved in the long run.”
An expansion of the Portland Street Response program is also new in this agreement.
“The agreement is to have the people in both from management and the people that are going to be doing the work, come together, how we integrate Portland Street Response into our public safety response system, so we send the best person to respond,” Brown said.
Brown said sometimes it will involve a co-response and sometimes it will be just one organization responding.
“Our interest was in doing it in the best way possible,” Brown said.
Not everyone is happy with the details of the contract. On Thursday, some people said efforts to bring more transparency and accountability didn’t go far enough.
There will be a public comment session on the contract at a council meeting on February 17, and the city council will vote on it February 24.