The Mental Health Alliance submitted testimony to the Portland City Council supporting the charter code recommendations of the Portland Accountability Commission.
“The most important value articulated by the commission is that the new accountability system be fully independent and free from influence by elected officials and City employees, including but not limited to employees of the Police Bureau and City Attorney’s Office. Decades of experience has demonstrated that the City is and will always be fundamentally self-protecting in matters of police misconduct. City employee influence in the accountability process is the prime reason for our current system’s brokenness, and is anathema to city and community goals of seeking justice and building the Portland Police Bureau into a learning organization.
“Today and in the future, we look to your Council to safeguard and protect the independence of Portland’s police accountability system – both in generality and in every individual case.”
Portland 2020 protests: Police relied too much on tear gas, rubber-ball grenades, outside review finds – Oregonian August 10 2023
Portland police relied too heavily on tear gas, projectiles, hand-thrown rubber-ball explosives and other distraction devices that harmed peaceful people in the crowd during 2020′s social justice protests and riots, outside examiners found.
The Police Bureau “must strengthen its policies, command training and resources to ensure that this never happens again,” the investigators with Independent Monitor said in a 95-page analysis released Thursday.
The Handling of the 2020 Protests and Riots in Portland, Oregon: An Independent Review – Independent Monitor LLC
Members of Portland City Council.
Since the idea of police officers using body-worn cameras was introduced by the City in 2018, the Mental Health Alliance has asked there be a policy in place to guide both purchase and implementation, and the policy be informed by community engagement. Members of the Alliance appreciate the city providing the proposed preliminary body-worn camera policy negotiated with the Portland Police Association, as well as the Department of Justice’s preliminary approval of the policy. We thank the parties for their work to find a compromise solution that avoids further delays.
But this is a first draft – not a completed document. More the result of a tedious labor negotiation than durable policy. It focuses on one aspect of a policy; how police officers may view camera footage after hurting someone, and other mechanisms to protect officers from exposure and public accountability. Protecting officers from unwarranted exposure is a vital, worthy goal and pre-report viewing has been a sticking point. But fairness to officers is just one goal among many.
Our request is that your decision on this agenda item be postponed.
Read our complete letter by clicking the link above or below.
Formatted PDF – Letter from Mental Health Alliance – re item 335 for April 26
City Officials May Be Willing to Compromise on Letting Cops Get a Sneak Preview of Body-Worn Camera Footage – Willamette Week, March 2023
Advocates say rushing into a compromise is not an acceptable solution, particularly in a city like Portland that is already being scrutinized for its police force’s failings. “The DOJ has been clear: Body-worn cameras only have as much value as the policy behind them,” says Eben Hoffer, legislative lead at the Mental Health Alliance.
Portland Police Association wants PPB to have ability to review footage before reporting force
By Eben Hoffer – Street Roots, March 7, 2023
In February, the Oregonian editorial board noted, rightly, that the police officers who beat Tyre Nichols to death were dismissed and charged only because there is video evidence of the incident. The board also noted this degree of accountability would not have happened in Portland because Portland Police Bureau, or PPB, officers do not use body-worn cameras, or “BWCs.”
Indeed, we know what would have happened if Tyre Nichols had been killed in Portland because his story is so similar to that of James Chasse, killed by Portland police in 2006. Unlike the situation in Memphis, Chasse’s killers were not caught on video, kept their jobs and walked free. Perhaps BWCs would have made a difference for Chasse and his family, and perhaps they could for Portlanders in the future.
We have haggled over BWCs for years in this community. Now, in 2023, the city of Portland is under a federal court order to move forward on a BWC program. But the process is stuck in negotiations with the local police union, the Portland Police Association. Reasonable people may look at this situation and ask, ‘how did we get here, and what is ahead?’
(This opinion reflects the consensus of the Mental Health Alliance. To read the complete opinion, click the link in the title above.)
People with lived experience should be seen as an effective, accessible and realistic solution to nonprofit staffing woes
By Mark Schorr – Street Roots, March 1, 2023
Nonprofits providing services to our most vulnerable people are struggling with understaffing. Finding those with master’s degrees willing to do challenging work for what is too often low pay and under-resourced services has been a problem since long before I worked for Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare more than 15 years ago.
We were able to provide staffing for housing and addiction services utilizing people with lived experience but not necessarily academic credentials.
With the scarcity of well-schooled individuals only increasing, this is an opportunity to hire more people with lived experience and fewer degrees. And the dirty little secret is that they may be better suited to help those who are houseless, addicted and/or struggling with mental illness.
(This opinion reflects the consensus of the Mental Health Alliance. To read the complete opinion, click the link in the title above.)
Will Portland police get to review body cam footage to write use of force reports?
The Department of Justice and the Mental Health Alliance don’t want to allow officers to preview the footage
KOIN.com, February 28, 2023
Mental Health Alliance argues Portland officers shouldn’t be able to review body camera footage
KATU.com, February 28, 2023
Disputed Portland police body camera policy draws questions from federal judge
Oregonian, February 28, 2023
Federal Judge Questions Portland Police Union’s Demands Over Body Cameras, Mercury March 2, 2023
Union officials believe police should be able to review bodycam footage before filing use-of-force reports.
During a press conference Monday ahead of the status hearing, the Mental Health Alliance (MHA) raised concerns that the investigation into the meme slide took more than a year. Under the settlement, PPB investigations are expected to be completed within 180 days.
“180 days came and went and came and went again, which is in clear violation of the settlement agreement,” said Eben Hoffer, a member of MHA, during the Monday press conference. “We’re flummoxed and concerned as to why these high-profile, clear violations of a federal court order put in place by the Department of Justice receives no response from the Department of Justice, and we think that the judge should ask them why.”
Members of the Mental Health Alliance write to Albany Police Chief Marcia Harden after the death of Julius Hamilton, on February 8, 2023
Members of the Mental Health Alliance write to Linn County District Attorney Doug Marteeny after the death of Julius Hamilton, on February 8, 2023
Federal Judge Expresses Disappointment in City’s Ongoing Non-Compliance in PPB Settlement – Portland Mercury November 9, 2022
Judge Michael Simon – “I was expecting greater transparency by now.”
(Simon) was also concerned by PPB data presented by the Mental Health Alliance (MHA) that illustrated how police use of force against people with a mental illness has appeared to worsen since the city first entered the settlement agreement.
“Despite a steady decline in police dispatches overall, force-incidents during a mental crisis have not declined, even though force incidents have declined for all other groups,” reads a court filing submitted by the MHA. The group’s data, compiled with retired scientific researcher Jonathan Brown, also found that the intensity of police force used against mentally ill Portlanders has increased over the past five years.
Attorneys with the MHA and representatives from the Albina Ministerial Alliance—two amici in the case—also expressed their frustration with how slow the city’s process has been to address its shortcomings within the settlement requirements.
“The city cannot be rewarded with four more months for successfully hiding the ball before these hearings,” wrote Juan Chavez, attorney for the MHA, in an update filed with the court. “If the city ever meets its obligations to report to the court an update on its body worn camera policy, or the status of its investigation into the training slide, we request that the court convenes an expedited hearing on these matters and allow for public testimony.”
Lagging Portland police reforms spark call for court monitor: ‘Maybe it’s time for a substantial change’ – Oregonian November 9 2022
Attorney Kristen Chambers, representing the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform, said the group, a party to the settlement, believes a court monitor is “absolutely necessary at this time” to address ongoing problems involving the city and Police Bureau that involve “delay, secrecy and exclusion of the community.”
Members of the Mental Health Alliance advocacy group urged that any court monitor report directly to the judge, not the city, and be properly funded.
Hager said the Justice Department is seeking the city’s agreement for a court monitor, but if not, may move for one independently. Its experience in other cities, such as Baltimore, is that it takes about four months to have one in place, after a conceptual agreement is reached, Hager said.
Portland attorneys accuse US Justice Department of moving goalposts on police accountability – OPB.org August 9, 2022
The city of Portland has accused the U.S. Department of Justice of stating incorrect information and misinterpreting police programs while the two sides negotiate how to bring Portland back into compliance with a federal settlement agreement about police use of force.
City attorneys responded in July to the Justice Department’s sixth periodic assessment with a line-by-line rebuttal of areas where the city claims the Justice Department is moving the goalposts or simply wrong. OPB obtained a copy of the rebuttal through a public records request.
Portland police slipping further from compliance with settlement, Justice Department finds, Oregonian July 26, 2022
The Portland Police Bureau slid further over the past year in failing to meet reforms required under the city’s 2014 settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a new report by federal lawyers.
The city is out of compliance with sections governing police use of force, training, officer accountability, community engagement, crisis intervention and how it tracks officers’ performance to identify potential problems early.
Justice Department lawyers also wrote in their latest annual review that Portland’s audit of police use of force during 2020 protests lacked credibility.
The Police Bureau’s internal audit concluded officers’ use of force during the city’s mass racial justice protests in 2020 complied with bureau policy 96% of the time.
Sisters of two men fatally shot by Portland police in separate encounters address federal judge, Oregonian July 27, 2022
Sisters of two men who were fatally shot by Portland police last year in separate encounters on Wednesday shared the impact of their loss with a federal judge evaluating the progress of the city’s steps to try to reduce force used by police against those in crisis.
Portland, U.S. Justice Department Plan More Hearings in Wake of Dismal Oversight Report – Willamette Week, July 26, 2022
Mayor Ted Wheeler says he remains “optimistic that we are making substantial progress.”
It is now the eighth year of federal oversight of the Portland Police Bureau. The Department of Justice’s concerns initially focused on the bureau’s treatment of people with mental illness, but has expanded to its ability to monitor and address officer misconduct, particularly during the 2020 protests.
The bureau has yet to resolve many of the federal government’s ongoing concerns. Department of Justice attorneys pointed to 30 paragraphs of the 2014 settlement agreement where the city was not yet in full compliance.
The independent assessor said only 23 paragraphs were out of compliance, but that was still six more than last year.
One of the findings by the Department of Justice was that the number of violent encounters between the police and people with mental illnesses increased.
Report: PPB hasn’t met reforms regarding excessive force against mentally ill individuals, KOIN.com July 27, 2022
The city was back in court Wednesday after a new federal report found the Portland Police Bureau moved further out of compliance with its 2014 settlement agreement with the Department of Justice.
Recent revelations that the use of force against people in mental health crises has become more frequent and more severe suggest the city’s regression is the product of more fundamental problems at the bureau and not a result of the extraordinary circumstances of 2020, as city attorneys have argued. Staff with the police bureau’s behavioral health unit also revealed that a team meant to advise the unit was not reviewing police shootings and other violent encounters. A team meant to advise the police bureau’s behavioral health unit said last year it could not discuss actual encounters between officers and people in crisis. The advisory team also said it cannot review police shootings and other violent encounters.
“I’ve lost faith in the city attorneys. I’ve lost faith in the DOJ really holding the police accountable and I’ve lost faith in the COCL,” said Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, referring to the compliance officer and community liaison charged with independently assessing the police bureau’s compliance with the settlement agreement.
Veteran LAPD sergeant selected to serve as civilian dean of training for Portland Police Bureau – Oregonian, July 14, 2022
Thomas L. Datro, a sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department who oversees police training there, has been selected by a Portland Police Bureau panel to serve as the bureau’s new civilian director of training.
The Police Bureau announced the selection internally and informed the U.S. Department of Justice and the city-hired compliance officer of its selection.
Chronic sleep deprivation in our nation’s law enforcement: a public safety crisis – dissertation by Thomas Datro, 2021
Portland yanks job offer for police training chief, citing problems in background check – Oregonian July 20, 2022
City Withdraws Employment Offer to Police Bureau’s New Training Dean – Portland Mercury July 20, 2022
PPB Civilian Dean of Training Conditional Employment Offer Withdrawn – PPB press release July 20, 2022
Articles associated with the April 29, 2022 Fairness Hearing on Section XI
Police Force Against People With a Mental Illness Has Risen, Despite Federal Oversight – Portland Mercury, April 29, 2022
A court filing by Jonathan Brown, a retired senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, detailed that police use of force against people with a mental illness has slightly increased since 2017, based on PPB’s own data. At the same time, Brown found that the type of force has intensified.
“I was surprised to discover that the number of applications and the severity of force used in force events involving mentally impaired citizens has been rising quickly and steadily over the last four years,” wrote Brown.
Brown submitted this data to the court as a volunteer for the Mental Health Alliance (MHA), one of the amici curiae (or a “friend of the court” who is allowed to submit input on litigation) in the case.
After delivering these facts to US District Judge Michael Simon in court Friday, Simon interjected: “Could you repeat that?”
Eben Hoffer, another member of the MHA, pointed to this data as a proof that the settlement agreement has not addressed the true problem identified by the DOJ.
“Changing outcomes for real people,” Hoffer said, “that is something we should be measuring.”
Brown recommended that the DOJ bring in an outside court monitor to oversee the progress of the settlement agreement reached in 2014, in which the city agreed to meet certain goals regarding police training, use-of-force policies, accountability measures, and other tools to improve the PPB.
“More transparency will increase respect for the police and help them do a better job,” said Brown on Friday.
Questions linger about Portland police settlement on excessive force, including future body camera policy – Oregonian, April 29, 2022
Rochelle Silver, a psychologist and member of the Mental Health Alliance, said the training dean must be granted independence and authority. Otherwise, she said, “Although it sounds good, it likely will be nothing but expensive window dressing.”
Jonathan Brown, a volunteer with the Mental Health Alliance and an epidemiologist, submitted his own analysis of police use of force to the court, finding that the rate of police using force against people perceived to be in mental health crisis had increased since 2017. He said he examined dispatched calls for services “most likely to involve the mentally impaired” and force data reports from the Police Bureau. He also said use of serious force has almost doubled since 2017 for people in mental health distress.
Deal approved to implement police body cameras in Portland – OPB.com, April 29, 2022
Testifying for the Mental Health Alliance, retired senior scientist Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research Jonathan Brown said after reviewing the bureau’s use of force data, he found the use of force against people with mental illness had increased in both frequency and severity since 2017.
“I was surprised to discover that the number of applications and the severity of force used in force events involving mentally impaired citizens has been rising quickly and steadily over the last four years,” Brown wrote.
City ordinance – Authorize competitive solicitation not to exceed $2,600,000 for a body-worn camera implementation for police officers – February 9, 2022
City ordinance – Approve amendments to Settlement Agreement between the United States Department of Justice and the City of Portland – February 9, 2022
January 2022 – City attorney apologizes for delay in alerting feds, public about offensive Portland police training slide – Oregonian
A public forum Sunday night provided a rare public exchange between the president of the Portland police union and lawyers from the U.S. Department of Justice about whether officers should be allowed to view footage from body cameras before they give a statement to investigators on their use of force.
January 20, 2022 – Open Letter from the Mental Health Alliance on the Portland Police Bureau Training Slide Show
The Mental Health Alliance was disheartened to learn of the offensive, derogatory, and factually and legally incorrect information that a police trainer included in a slide show used to train the Portland Police Bureau and other agencies on crowd response. Furthermore, we were appalled to learn that the City of Portland and the Portland Police Bureau have been keeping this information from the Department of Justice, the Court, and the public.
“Protests & Riots” – a PDF of a powerpoint training for police officers in Oregon, circa 2018, author unknown (as of 1/2022)
For nearly a decade now, the US Department of Justice has engaged in the difficult but important work of attempting to rein in the violent excesses of the Portland Police Bureau. The DOJ has been joined by the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform and the Mental Health Alliance, in recognition of the outsized impact that police violence has on our black and brown community members and on community members living with mental illness. This work is vital, it is urgent, and it is serious, and it has continued through protests that saw record uses of force by the police bureau and through continued lethal shootings of our community members.
The actions of the Portland City Attorney’s Office, the City of Portland, the Police Commissioner, and the Portland Police Bureau are an insult to all of those who have worked on this issue. While we have been having the honest conversations around police reform that the people of Portland have asked for, the City has continued to prioritize short-term public relations wins over long-term policy accomplishments. In the midst of a pandemic and a historic demand for police reform, they have wasted our time, the Department of Justice’s time, the Court’s time, and most importantly the time of the people of Portland.
Enough is enough. The City have proven themselves time and time again to be bad faith actors who have no intention of making the needed changes unless they are forced to. We stand with the Department of Justice in their demands for the city to come clean about this massive failure in training and accountability, and in the DOJ’s requests for any additional oversight or sanctions that the Judge may choose to impose. In particular, we will ask the Judge to appoint an independent court monitor with the power to compel records from the city and keep them from engaging in further coverups. We cannot continue to give the benefit of the doubt to a city government that has shown itself to be so addicted to secrecy and dishonesty that they continue to hide the truth even when the stakes are as high as they could possibly be.
January 2022 – Portland, feds reach tentative pact on body cameras, protest accountability – Oregonian
In November, some community activists who have been parties to the settlement — the Albina Ministerial Alliance’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform and the Mental Health Alliance — had expressed concern in court that amendments to the settlement didn’t ensure that the Police Bureau will bar officers from previewing the camera footage before giving a statement to investigators after using deadly force.
Under the negotiated pact, the city can continue to negotiate with the police union a policy on the future use of body-worn cameras for police. But if the Justice Department doesn’t support the policy, then it can haul the city to court to seek court-ordered enforcement of an appropriate policy.
December 2021 – Town hall focuses on Portland police body cameras – KATU.com
The Mental Health Alliance hosted a virtual town hall Thursday night to address policies surrounding police-worn body cameras.Their main goal was to hear from the public, but they also presented speakers from various groups like the ACLU, the Urban League of Portland and the Oregon Justice Resource Center.
November 2021 – Justice Department lawyers send Portland city attorney, police chief recommended police body-worn camera policy – Oregonian
November 2021 – Portland needs policies for body-worn cameras before purchasing – Amanda J Marshall, JD
October 2021 – Commissioner Mingus Mapps wants to use some surplus money on Portland Police – OPB.org
“A larger issue here is that we’ve put so many resources and responsibilities fundamentally on the police when I don’t even think the police necessarily want those responsibilities …” said Juan Chavez, a civil rights attorney with the Oregon Justice Resource Center. “We have to start the process of decoupling social services responses to the police.”
“Pre-review is one of the big existential, constitutional questions that needs to be hashed out now,” [Juan] Chavez says. “We need to prevent the police from being able to come up with these post hoc justifications.”
August 2021 – City Officials Say They’re Eager to Resolve Police’s Non-Compliance with DOJ Settlement; Community Groups Skeptical – Portland Mercury
August 2021 – City’s unkept promises to people in crisis – editorial in the Oregonian by Jason Renaud and Michael Hopcroft
June 2021 – The Mental Health Alliance sent a letter to members of the Portland City Council asking for a Police Accountability Transition Plan to be created and disseminated.
READ – Police Accountability Transition Plan letter (PDF)
May 2021 – The Mental Health Alliance issued a position statement on Oregon House Bill 3069 to the House Committee on Revenue – Establishes statewide coordinated crisis services system including 9-8-8 suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis hotline. Our comments address the creation of multiple statewide crisis stabilization centers – there are too many unanswered questions to move this idea forward at this time.
May 2021 – The Mental Health Alliance urged the Portland City Council to fund the full-city expansion of Portland Street Response in the city’s 2021/2022 budget.
April 2021 – The Mental Health Alliance wrote to Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt asking him to transfer the investigation and prosecution of Portland Police officer Zachary DeLong to the Oregon Justice Department for the killing of Robert Delgado.
April 2021 – The Mental Health Alliance issued a statement on the killing of Robert Delgado, outlining immediate steps which can be taken to reduce lethal use of force by police against people with mental illness, addiction, and alcoholism.
The Town Hall on Body-Worn Cameras, presented December 2, 2021 by the Mental Health Alliance, collected community comments about potential policies for use in Portland. Those comments will be presented in Federal court during the January 2021 Fairness Hearing in US DOJ v City of Portland.
Body-worn cameras are a significant part of the remedy proposed by the US DOJ responding to the violations of the settlement agreement in US DOJ v City of Portland in 2020 by the Portland Police Bureau.
This town hall is presented by the Mental Health Alliance, and promoted Disability Rights Oregon, ACLU-Oregon, Oregon Justice Resource Center, Council on American Islamic Relations, Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance, Mental Health Association of Portland, the Urban League, and other Portland community organizations.
Kelly Simon – ACLU of Oregon
Jared Hager – US Department of Justice
Juan Chavez – Oregon Justice Resource Center
Daniel Lawrence, Phd – CNA
Chris Gorsek – Oregon Senate
BODY CAMERA READING LIST
DOJ Requests Body Cams, New Penalties for Portland Police – Portland Mercury 7 15 2021
As Portland Inches Closer to Body-Worn Cameras, Commissioner Hardesty Says She’s a “Convert” – Willamette Week 11 09 2021
Opinion: Portland needs policies for body-worn cameras before purchasing – 11 14 2021
The Mental Health Alliance provided questions to the Portland City Council on the 2020 report from the OIR Group on lethal force incidents by the Portland Police Bureau, and the PPB response to that report.
The Mental Health Alliance endorses Measure 26-217 to reform police oversight in Portland. Here is our endorsement statement, written for the Oregon Voter’s Guide in September 2020.
COLUMN: When to not call the police, by Mental Health Alliance – Aug 17, 2020
In the 911 call that led to George Floyd being killed by police, he was described as “awfully drunk and not in control of himself.” This is obviously not justification for his death — being impaired is not a capital offense. Calling attention to his impairment highlights a key factor in many incidents of police overuse of force: drug use or mental health problems by victims.
June 2020 – Amanda J. Marshall JD, of the Mental Health Alliance Work Group, explains how you can be active in Portland’s complicated police reform process.
In June 2020, members of the Alliance wrote a letter to Billy Williams, head of the US DOJ for the state of Oregon, thanking him and his staff for not prosecuting David R. Nickel.
READ – Letter to Billy Williams, June 2020 (PDF)
In June 2020, members of the Mental Health Alliance wrote to Mayor Wheeler and PPB Chief Lovell demanding cessation of use of rubber bullets and chemical gas against relatively peaceful demonstrators. There has been no response.
READ – Letter to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell, June 2020 (PDF)
In June 2020, the Mental Health Alliance responded to an inquiry by Mayor Ted Wheeler about reducing jailing of persons with mental illness with six practical steps the city and its allies could do now.
In mid-May 2020, in response to Judge Michael Simon and in agreement with the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Peace and Justice Reform, the Mental Health Alliance presented a set of expectations of success for the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing to the parties to US DOJ v City of Portland. Both the Mental Health Alliance and the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition are amicus to the court for this long-running Federal civil rights suit.
A DRAFT of those expectations are downloadable here. The parties and amicus will meet again in June to finalize the expectations.
The Mental Health Alliance successfully opposed lifting of the conditional status of amendments to the settlement agreement of US DOJ v. City of Portland at the February 25 2020 status conference. The parties to the case and the Portland Police Association sought to end the conditional status, which would change language in the settlement agreement about community oversight, and instead adopt Mayor Ted Wheeler’s plan for Portland’s Committee on Community-Engaged Policing (PCCEP). The parties contended all the items of the settlement agreement are resolved and asked for the case to move toward dismissal with eleven months of monitoring.
Judge Michael Simon delayed ruling, citing evidence presented by the Mental Health Alliance and public testimony on the instability of the PCCEP. Simon said there was insufficient evidence to rule the PCCEP fulfilled the expectations of the “PCCEP Plan” and should be adopted. He encouraged the parties to meet with community members and return to his court in one year.
Federal judge still reluctant to approve Portland’s new community approach to police oversight
Oregonian, February 26, 2020
Most of the community representatives, including leaders of the Albina Ministerial Alliance and its Coalition for Justice and Police Reform and the Mental Health Alliance, said they were dissatisfied with the city’s new oversight committee.
They highlighted the high turnover rate of its members, as well as a lack of broad community outreach and respect for recommendations offered by members with lived experience of mental illness.
Those who sat on its subcommittee for People with Mental Illness resigned this month, saying they felt unheard.
Amanda J. Marshall, an Oregon City-based lawyer who was the co-chair of the subcommittee, said she and others left “feeling marginalized, misunderstood and ultimately dismissed. Unfortunately, these feelings parallel the experience of those with mental illness.”
Judge Delays Ruling on Portland’s Police Settlement Agreement with DOJ, Citing Lack of Community Engagement
Portland Mercury, February 27, 2020
Federal Judge Weighs Whether Portland Is In Compliance With DOJ Agreement
OPB.org, February 26, 2020
While debates on PCCEP’s merits took the lion’s share of the morning, others told the judge they believed the city shouldn’t be found in compliance for a simple reason, at the heart of the agreement: Portland Police officers still kill people experiencing mental illnesses.
“In 2019, the PPB killed five people – all people in mental health crisis,” said Michael Hopcroft, a board member of the Mental Health Association of Portland. “At the same time, in NYC, with 10 times the population, NYC killed 10 people.” He added that, according to the Washington Post’s fatal shooting database, none of the people were in a mental health crisis.
Documents for Status Conference – February 25 2020
The Mental Health Alliance is amicus curiae to the Federal Court in United States of America v. City of Portland, which found Portland police officers had a pattern and practice of using excessive force against persons with mental illness. The Alliance is made up of four organizations – Disability Rights Oregon, Oregon Justice Resource Center, the Mental Health Association of Portland, and Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance, as well as individual members. The website for the alliance is at www.mentalhealthalliance.org.
Mr. Chavez argued at the February 25 status conference the City of Portland is not compliant with the settlement agreement of US v City of Portland.
- Status Report to the Court from the Mental Health Alliance (PDF)
- Declaration of Juan Chavez – includes list of exhibits (PDF)
- Attrition Chart of PCCEP Members (PDF)
- Letter from Derald Walker PhD and Jeffrey Eisen MD of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare (PDF)
Michael Hopcroft is a member of the Mental Health Alliance, will provide public testimony refuting any claim the City has reduced use of force against people with mental illness, alcoholism or addiction. His testimony relies on data produced by the PPB and available on their website. Data scientist Mark Harmon Leymon, PhD of Portland State University review Hopcroft’s conclusions and adds an affidavit.
- Testimony of Michael Hopcroft (PDF)
- Affidavit of Mark Harmon Leymon, PhD (PDF)
- Website information for Dr. Leymon
The Mental Health Alliance has provided support for the Sub-Committee for People with Mental Illness, part of Portland’s Committee for Community-Engaged Policing. Members of that Sub-Committee will testify at the status conference about why the Sub-Committee members have resigned. The Sub-Committee former members who will testify are listed below with links to their testimony and evidence.
Patrick Nolen is a former PCCEP member and former co-chair of the Sub-Committee for People with Mental Illness. Patrick shares his frustrations with the PCCEP and resigns from both the PCCEP and Sub-Committee.
Testimony of Patrick Nolen (PDF)
Meredith Mathis is a former member of the Sub-Committee for People with Mental Illness. Meredith shares her experience presenting recommendations from the Sub-Committee to the PCCEP, and resigns.
Testimony of Meredith Mathis (PDF)
Amanda S. Marshall, JD is a former co-chair of the Sub-Committee for People with Mental Illness. Amanda will tell how the PCCEP failed to provide due consideration for a Sub-Committee recommendation, and resigns.
Testimony of Amanda Marshall, JD (PDF)
Exhibits presented – including letter to Mayor Ted Wheeler and three recommendations made to the PCCEP (PDF)
Status Conference – June 6 2019
In June 2019, the Mental Health Alliance successfully argued before Judge Michael Simon the PCCEP had been largely unsuccessful in reaching basic organizational goals and had yet to produce substantial work product. Judge Simon agreed and scheduled a return status conference for February 25, 2020.
In addition to the June 6 meeting, the MHA participated in a “parties discussion” on June 5 with attorneys and representatives from the City of Portland, the US DOJ, the Portland Police Association, the Portland Police Bureau, the Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform.
Here is the Agenda for the June 6 status conference (PDF).
Here is the Brief to the Court from the Mental Health Alliance presented by MHA attorney Juan Chavez (PDF).
Here is the testimony of Jason Renaud, a member of the MHA (PDF).
Judge wants some proof that Portland’s new community approach to police oversight is effective
Oregonian, June 6, 2019
How has new community approach in police settlement worked? Judge gets status report
Oregonian, June 5 2019
The request by the Mental Health Alliance to make the meetings of the Portland Police Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit Advisory Committee open to the public was denied on February 26, 2019 by Tracy Reeves, attorney for the City of Portland. Reeves, instead of asserting Oregon Public Meeting Law, advised the BHUAC they could decide for themselves whether to follow Oregon law or keep the meeting closed.
UPDATE – as of June 7, 2019 meetings of the Portland Police Bureau’s Behavioral Health Unit Advisory Committee remains closed to the public.
Our work supporting people with lived experience of mental illness on Portland’s Committee for Community Engaged Policing (PCCEP) began in October 2018. In January 2019 the PCCEP created the Subcommittee for People with Mental Illness. Below are the organizing documents for the subcommittee.
See – Description – Subcommittee for People with Mental Illness (PDF)
See – Subcommittee Application (PDF)
See – Member Roster – Subcommittee for People with Mental Illness Roster (PDF)
See – Meeting Schedule Spring 2019 – Subcommittee for People with Mental Illness (PDF)
See – Online Resources for Subcommittee Study (PDF)
Join – Subcommittee for People with Mental Illness Facebook Page
The Mental Health Alliance sent a letter on February 14, 2019 to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler asking that the Behavioral Health Unity Advisory Committee to comply with Oregon Public Meetings Law.
The Mental Health Alliance submitted testimony to Federal Court and Judge Michael Simon on February 12 in reference to US DOJ v. City of Portland clarifying the qualities expected in a psychiatric service described as a “drop off” or “walk in.” The letter was drafted by Jeffrey Eisen, Medical Director of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare and Derald Walker, CEO of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, with input from senior managers of Health Share Oregon and the Multnomah County Mental Health and Addiction Services Division.
The Mental Health Alliance released its position on body worn cameras on January 23, 2019.
See – Position on Body Worn Cameras (PDF)
Portland police union, feds object to Mental Health Alliance’s push for stronger input on reform settlement – Oregonian, September 24, 2018
A lawyer for the Portland police union and federal attorneys are urging a judge to reject the Mental Health Alliance’s request to have a seat at the table in the court’s review of the city’s four-year-old settlement with federal Justice officials on police reforms.
Anil Karia, representing the Portland Police Association, called the alliance’s move a “last-ditch attempt to put its own stamp on this case” that comes “five and a half years too late.”
New mental health alliance wants say on police reform settlement – Oregonian, September 11, 2018
A new alliance of mental health advocacy groups wants a seat at the table in the court’s review of the city of Portland’s four-year old settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice stemming from police use of excessive force against people with mental illness.
The alliance was formed in July and is made up of Disability Rights Oregon, the Mental Health Association of Portland and Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare. The groups cite their experience and expertise as direct service providers to people with mental illness.
Mental Health Alliance Wants Input on Portland’s Federally-Mandated Police Reforms – Portland Mercury, September 11, 2018