Portland’s new Citizen Police Review Board could start reviewing internal affairs investigations as soon as February 2024 if an ordinance under development is adopted by the City Council at its meeting in November.

City councilors held a two-hour workshop Monday night to review the proposed ordinance that would govern the new board, which would replace the city’s existing Police Citizen Review Subcommittee – a group criticized by some as being powerless.

City voters approved a ballot question in November 2022 to create the Civilian Police Review Board with the authority to review internal affairs investigations involving the Portland Police Department. Among its provisions, the board would have three non-voting members, which left some councilors wondering who would accept such a post.

Councilors on Monday recommended changes to the ordinance, including expanding the review board from five to seven voting members, relaxing member eligibility requirements, and considering the creation and funding of a new position in the 2024-25 budget to serve as a liaison between the board and the community.

City code currently stipulates that present or former city employees and City Council members are prohibited from serving on any police review panel until 10 years after they leave. Councilors said that should be lowered to one year and be applied to former school department employees and elected school board officials as well.

Mayor Kate Snyder, citing a sense of urgency, resisted efforts by some councilors to hold another workshop on the ordinance or send it back to the council’s Health and Human Services and Public Safety Committee for further review.


“My hope was that the changes approved by voters in 2022 could be implemented by December 2023,” said Snyder, who is not seeking reelection.

If Associate Corporation Counsel Rachel Millette, who is crafting the ordinance, can incorporate the recommended changes, the council could vote on the ordinance at its Nov. 20 meeting. Millette said that as a courtesy, she still needs to meet with representatives of Portland’s police unions before the ordinance is brought to a final vote.

There seemed to be unanimous agreement that Umaru Balde, the city’s first director of equity and diversity, should not serve as the board’s community liaison. That position should be filled by someone else and funded in the next budget cycle, councilors said, though the fiscal impact is not known.

Despite not having a staff person to guide the new board during its early stages, the board could hold its first meeting as soon as February, Snyder said. Many members will likely be chosen from the existing Police Citizen Review Subcommittee.

Currently, subcommittee members can only review and evaluate internal police investigations based on four categories: fairness, objectivity, thoroughness and timeliness, but the charter amendment says the new board will examine “due process issues, including but not limited to” those categories.

Subcommittee members have access to all investigative materials, including reports, interview transcripts and body cam footage, and they often form opinions about aspects of an investigation that were handled well or poorly. But in their final reports, they can only determine whether investigations were fair, objective, thorough and timely.

The city charter requires that the new board receive all complaints of police misconduct. The board will review all final internal affairs investigations, not just those brought by civilians.

The ordinance would also cap a member’s service at nine consecutive years and limits the number of consecutive years a member can serve as chairman. Councilors suggested the chairman’s term be capped at two or three years.

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