The police force of the City shall…
and generally obey and enforce all ordinances of the City Council and criminal laws of the State and of the United States. Portland Police Bureau Charter, 3.20.110 Duties of Police Force
- report all leaks and other defects in water pipes and sewers, and street lights not burning to the proper authorities…
- protect strangers and travelers at the steamboat and ship landings and railroad stations
The Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) charter and directives must be rewritten before a new contract is signed for a multitude of reasons. Take the quote above, for instance. These are among the explicitly stated duties of the police force in service of the City of Portland. Given the seemingly centuries old language and the patchwork of changes that have been added over the decades, the charter as it currently stands fails to provide the professional standard and protections that are expected of a governing body.
Put simply: the charter needs to be rewritten from the top down in order to restore any trust the community may have in the police as a public institution.
During a time of nationwide unrest that is being met with unfettered police aggression, it is time to scrutinize the nature of the public’s relationship with the police. The questions we need to be asking right now are:
- what purpose do the police serve?
- what regulations are needed to ensure they are meeting that purpose?
- what processes are in place for if and when they fail?
There must be an answer to these types of questions before the City of Portland enters into a new contract with the Portland Police Bureau, and they must be codified into a new charter. Due to the historic nature of racism and use of excessive force in the PPB, any new charter must be reviewed and rewritten by a task group consisting of local BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) organizations and community advocacy groups along with experts in: restorative justice, violence de-escalation, and mental health.
Below, we have included links to government reports, news articles, and online campaigns to provide insight into the history of the Portland Police Bureau and demonstrate the necessary considerations for charter reform. This list is not exhaustive and we welcome input for additional resources to be included.
Portland Police Bureau Directives, 1010.00 Use of Force
- Objectively reasonable: The reasonableness of a use of force is based on the totality of circumstances known by an officer at the time of action or decision-making. It shall be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, without the clarity of 20/20 hindsight after the event has concluded. The measure of reasonableness gives consideration to the reality that officers are often forced to make split-second decisions in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving. In the application or evaluation of the use of force, uses of the terms reasonable and reasonably in this policy refer to objective reasonableness.
City/Government Official Links
- City of Portland: Police Bureau
- City of Portland, Charter, Code, and Policies: Chapter 3.20 Bureau of Police
- Portland Police Association
- Portland Police Association: Labor Agreement between the Portland Police Association and the City of the Portland (November 11, 2016 Through June 30, 2020)
- United States Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs: Justice Department and the City of Portland, Ore., Reach Preliminary Agreement on Reforms Regarding Portland Police Bureau’s Use of Force Against Persons with Mental Illness (Full Report – PDF) (September 13, 2012)
- City of Portland: Independent Police Review
- City of Portland, Independent Police Review: Citizen Review Committee
- Citizen Review Committee: Statement from the Citizen Review Committee Regarding Recent Protests (June 2020)
- OIR Group (View Portland (OR) Police Bureau)