Portland authorizes contract with oversight team monitoring city police

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — City leaders have approved a contract with the independent monitor expected to oversee the Portland Police Bureau.

During a City Council meeting on Thursday afternoon, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and all commissioners voted to authorize the contract with Mark P. Smith & Associates — led by the current inspector general of the Los Angeles Police Department.

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Officials agreed to hire an independent monitor for PPB in a late 2012 settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The department’s previous investigation into the city found that some police officers continually engaged in excessive force, a violation of the Constitution’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.

More than a decade ago, the federal agency reported that Portland police’s use of excessive force was “set against the backdrop of a larger mental health system that has gaps in services.”

In one particular case in 2010, unarmed 25-year-old Aaron Campbell was experiencing a mental health crisis when an officer fatally shot him in the back with an AR-15.

MPS & Associates — which the city and DOJ selected out of three finalists — will now be responsible for holding PPB accountable to its settlement agreement.

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Along with Smith, the team includes the current independent police auditor for a San Francisco transit district, the assistant inspector general for the Los Angeles Police Commission and a former director for the Portland Office of Youth Violence Prevention.

“They’re extremely well suited to serve with objectivity, expertise, and thoroughness,” Wheeler said at Thursday’s meeting. “I have every faith that the team will call balls and strikes as they see them, that they will recognize good work, and they will provide technical support when improvement is necessary and that they’ll ensure the community has a voice in this throughout.”

The company will develop a monitoring plan and conduct compliance reviews of the police agency every six months. Staff will evaluate data on use of force, mental health responses, officer training and more.

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According to MPS & Associate’s application for the role, the proposed budget for one year of independent monitoring is $837,500.

While Portland officials have approved a contract, the federal court must officially appoint the oversight team at a hearing on Wednesday, May 15.

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