PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On Wednesday, the Portland City Council voted unanimously in support of an independent commission to oversee misconduct investigations of the Portland police officers. Portland’s civilian oversight office has been beefed up several times since the first one was formed in 1982.
The measure advanced by City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty would set up a commission of undetermined size, give it broad powers to investigate complaints, compel testimony by officers and impose discipline.
Voters will have the final say on the measure in November.
“I am beyond thrilled that council voted to move forward to give voters the chance to put this long-overdue system into effect. While we’re celebrating this moment with the community, the work only begins with the results of today’s vote,” Hardesty said Wednesday. “As I mentioned before, accountability is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to making our communities safer – that includes safety from police violence. We have much more work ahead of us to meet the needs of this moment.”
Portland’s elected auditor, Mary Hull Caballero, oversees the city’s current system.
Caballero held her first-ever news conference Tuesday afternoon where she slammed Hardesty’s proposal.
“That’s a bold request given she wants Council to refer an unvetted, unrefined oversight model to the ballot as a charter amendment,” Caballero said. “It’s breathtaking, actually, and not in a good way.”
The newly formed Civilian Oversight Commission would have broad powers and would be funded by 5% of the PPB budget. Hull claims that is more than $11 million — more than 3 times more expensive than the city’s existing police oversight system.
Hardesty is currently under fire for her recent public comments about the Portland Police Bureau. She claimed PPB officers started fires during protests in order to justify attacking protesters. As a result, the president of the Portland Police Association has called for an investigation into Hardesty.
In a statement Daryl Turner said Hardesty’s “disregard for her oath of office is troubling; several of her statements not only absolve individuals of felonious conduct, her statements also had the potential, if not the effect, of promoting violence against the police.”
The Portland Tribune contributed to this report.