PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Members of three of civil rights groups in Oregon are asking for another investigation into bias at the Portland Police Bureau.
The coalition signed onto a letter saying that the latest Office of Independent Review (OIR) report, looking into the situation at PPB, isn’t sufficient — adding that the company that did the report didn’t listen enough to members of community.
The groups say in the letter that an investigation this important can’t be done remotely and a local organization should be hired to investigate and “center the community” for a new report.
“The city has invested $150,000 in paying this group from Southern California to investigate the police here and we have some concerns with the survey methods,” Beatrix Li, communications and policy associate at Oregon Justice Resource Center, said.
Li says the OIR report that came out a couple weeks ago wasn’t inclusive enough.
“With this report, we believe there could be more comprehensive research,” Li said.
The ACLU of Oregon, Oregon Justice Resource Center and Portland NAACP drafted a letter to send to the city stating that the report didn’t include enough members of the community.
“In our letter, we have included our concerns and our recommendations. Among them, is to prioritize community voices and we also listed local organizations that we would like to be at the table for this next report,” Li said.
Attorney Kat Mahoney served as a volunteer legal observer during several months of protests in 2020.
“It surveyed the police, it surveyed the city, it only took one point of view. So, when you only have one side, you don’t know what the solution can be,” Mahoney said.
She also believes that a new report should reflect more voices.
“I was surprised in the report that they said there were only six people that they talked to in the community, so that is concerning,” Mahoney said.
Mac Smiff, NAACP black liberation and social justice committee chair, explained “they really just treated our comments as extreme outliers in their analysis.”
The executive director of the ACLU says the report should have looked into the patterns and practices of how systemic racism has been built into the culture at the bureau and the disparate impact on communities that have been harmed.
”When they say ‘let’s hire new officers,’ we all know this to be true and this is also backed up by the research, when you hire more employees into a toxic and harmful work culture, that just results in more employees who are in that toxic work culture,” Sandy Chung, executive director of ACLU of Oregon, said.
Li says they haven’t heard back from the city yet following the release of the letter.
KOIN 6 reached out to Mayor Wheeler’s office for comment. His office provided this statement:
“In our initial evaluation of this report, Police Chief (Chuck) Lovell and I are both in agreement with the recommendations. Many of these recommendations are in line with my plan to refocus and reform the bureau, and have already been put in motion. I am unwavering in my commitment to evolving our Police Bureau. This study is an insightful tool for continuing to improve trust between our community and our police.”