Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Federal Government Sues and Settles for Oregon Police Excessive Force

On December 17, 2012, the United States government filed federal suit against the City of Portland, Oregon, alleging excessive force by police. Federal prosecutors also submitted a proposed settlement requiring the City to implement numerous reforms, estimated to cost between $3 and $5 million, annually.

A fifteen month investigation by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) found that Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force against perceived or actual mentally ill citizens.

Portland officials disagreed with DOJ's excessive force findings, according to court filings. Nevertheless, on November 14, 2012, the City Council agreed to the settlement "to protect the constitutional rights of all members of the Portland community to continuously improve the safety and security of the people in Portland, to keep (PPB) employees safe and to increase public confidence in PPB, all in a cost-effective, timely and collaborative manner."

Under terms of the agreement, the City of Portland must implement extensive policy changes related to the use of force and Taser use, training, supervision and oversight. It also requires: restructuring of PPB's crisis intervention services; quicker internal investigations of police misconduct allegations; hiring an independent compliance officer and community liaison to oversee reform implementation; and creating a community oversight board.

The parties called the agreement "fair, adequate and reasonable," in a joint motion filed in federal court by Portland City Attorney James H. Van Dyke, Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Thomas E. Perez and U.S. Attorney for Oregon, Amanda Marshall.

It is "the most effective way to implement the systemic reforms needed to address the allegations in the complaint," they wrote. "The agreement reflects the parties' considered efforts to ensure that the causes of the alleged violations are remedied and do not recur."

The parties requested that United States District Court Judge Michael H. Simon accept the settlement agreement and dismiss the case from the court's active docket, but retain judicial oversight to ensure and enforce agreement compliance.

Marshall says she looks forward to working with the City, Police Chief Mike Reese, and the community to implement the changes. Perez shares her optimism.

"I am confident that the reforms mandated by this agreement will result in a Portland Police Bureau that provides police services in a constitutional manner and that better protects the community," he said.

We will report on any significant developments in the case. See: United States v. City of Portland, U.S.D.C. (D. Ore.), Case No. 3:12-cv-02265-SI.

Source: The Oregonian

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

United States v. City of Portland