FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Daryl Turner
Portland, ORE – October 24th, 2013 –
PPA Statement to City Council – October 23rd, 2013
As President of the Portland Police Association, there are three key points I’d like to address regarding IPR’s proposed expansion of its powers in disciplinary investigations. The first concerns mandatory subjects of bargaining. The second concerns process. The third concerns whether IPR’s code changes make sense for the Portland Police Bureau.
First, IPR’s proposed code changes trigger a number of collective bargaining issues that must be addressed before the City can implement the code changes. These mandatory subjects of bargaining include, but are not limited to, discipline, job security, and minimum fairness. Our collective bargaining agreement also contains a number of provisions regarding the discipline process. IPR’s proposed changes will also impact those contract rights.
Second, in the past, the City has implemented new practices and procedures without first coming to an agreement with the PPA over mandatory bargaining subjects. The City’s approach has consistently resulted in unnecessary litigation and disagreement.
Process is important. In its ordinance submission, IPR notes that it met with over 20 community groups regarding its code changes. Yet, IPR would not meet with the PPA to have an in-depth discussion over IPR’s role in the discipline process. Time and again, the PPA has reached out to IPR to discuss these issues, and IPR has declined our invitations.
Collective bargaining is a process of working together towards an agreement where both parties’ interests are addressed. Until bargaining has taken place, these IPR code changes should not, and legally cannot, be implemented.
This leads me to my third point. City Council should think long and hard about whether these proposed IPR code changes are good policy for the Portland Police Bureau. As Chief Reese has pointed out, there are a number of “cons” in the proposed IPR code changes which, in my view, far outweigh any “pros.”
Currently, IPR has a very visible role in the disciplinary process; it has an unprecedented level of involvement and access into the Police Bureau’s affairs. IPR’s proposed code changes would upset this delicate balance by empowering IPR to essentially take over the Police Bureau’s duties and obligations in the discipline process. The Bureau’s current Internal Affairs Division staff who investigate alleged officer misconduct are highly qualified, highly trained investigators, with decades of experience in law enforcement and prior service as investigators. Currently, when civilian IPR staff wishes to question an officer, they appear alongside internal affairs investigators in one interview. This streamlined process is efficient and prevents delay in an already long and winding discipline process.
Under IPR’s proposed code changes, IPR would hold the unilateral right to conduct another investigation on top of the Bureau’s own internal affairs investigation. A number of questions remain unanswered from this model. Why does IPR want to hold its own investigations? Why are we adding yet another layer to an already overly-complex discipline process? How will the Police Bureau use IPR’s investigation in the discipline process? Won’t this additional investigation further delay the discipline process? If IPR believes the Police Bureau hasn’t adequately considered IPR’s investigation, what will happen? Discipline of employees is a core function of the Chief of police and the Police Bureau; isn’t this a first step towards civilianizing the investigation process and taking discipline out of the Police Bureau’s hands?
In conclusion, there are many more questions than answers with IPR’s proposed code changes. I do not believe that these IPR code changes are good policy for the Police Bureau and its discipline process. Even if you disagree with me on that policy point, we should all agree to respect the collective bargaining rights of the 900 men and women who serve and protect the citizens of Portland and their communities, making it one of the safest and most livable cities in the nation.