Outlaw: IPR homeless review can ‘strengthen policies’

Civic Affairs
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said a review of how police treat the homeless in the city was necessary and informative.

The chief asked for the Independent Police Review to look into media reports that determined more than half of PPB arrests in 2017-2018 were homeless people.

Read: Independent Police Review of PPB interactions with homeless

The IPR review alleged the department has inadequately addressed that fact and advised it make further efforts to do so through proper instruction, data analysis, and reduction of follow-up arrests.

The independent board examined over 700 arrest reports, but PPB said this was the only frame of reference for data and “does not encapsulate the entirety of the Police Bureau’s work.”

After April 2017 PPB said it started using a more suitable process of collecting data about mental illness being a possible factor in calls made to the police.

PPB Chief Danielle Outlaw at a press conference, July 3, 2019 (KOIN)

“I requested this review to improve transparency around this important topic that affects so many in our city,” she said in a statement. Still, the Police Bureau said arrests are all based on fair and legal grounds, and it maintained a person’s housing situation is irrelevant in that process.

Overall, Outlaw was complimentary of the review and recognized that its recommendations will be helpful going forward.

“While the report did not identify any actions by the Portland Police Bureau that criminalized persons experiencing houselessness,” she said, “we recognize the recommendations can strengthen our existing policies and procedures and improve data collection for future analysis.”

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