PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice have issued the city of Portland a formal notice of non-compliance with its settlement agreement over police excessive use of force.
It’s the first time the DOJ has taken that step since U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon approved the agreement seven years ago. The notice issued Friday is the first step toward probable mediation with the city over an impasse on stalled police reforms, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Federal lawyers last month said they had asked Portland police to create a plan on how they’ll properly report, analyze and investigate officers’ use of force, but the city contends a correction plan isn’t required under the settlement.
In February, the Justice Department found the Police Bureau failed to meet four key reforms under the settlement, citing inappropriate police use and management of force during protests, inadequate training, subpar police oversight and a failure to adequately share an annual Police Bureau report with the public.
The settlement followed a federal investigation that found Portland officers used excessive force against people experiencing mental health issues. It called for widespread changes to use of force and Taser policies, training, supervision and oversight, a restructuring of police crisis intervention services and quicker police misconduct investigations.
The city has 30 days to respond in writing to the Justice Department’s notice. A face-to-face meeting would then be held to try to bridge the stalemate.
Considering that at least three such meetings have been held with no resolution, it’s likely the parties next will head to mediation. If the problems still aren’t resolved, the case goes back before the federal judge.
From May 29 through Nov. 15, during the height of the social justice protests in Portland sparked by the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Portland police used force more than 6,000 times, according to the Justice Department report.
Mary Claire Buckley, a civilian employee who oversees the Police Bureau’s Office of Inspector General, said last month the Police Bureau was overwhelmed by the more than 100 consecutive nights of protests, and noted that the city has never had to “write up our plan” in the past about how to reach compliance with the settlement.