On December 17, 2012, the United States of America filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, against the City of Portland ("the City") based on the conduct of the Portland Police Bureau ("PPB"). The United States, represented by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice ("DOJ"), sought injunctive and declaratory relief. The complaint
alleges that officers of the PPB engaged in a practice of unconstitutional use of force against individuals with actual or perceived mental illness. Specifically, the United States claimed that: (1) police encounters with such individuals too frequently resulted in a higher level force than necessary; (2) PPB officers employed tasers more times than necessary on such individuals, or in circumstances where such force was not justified; and (3) PPB officers used a higher degree of force than justified for low level offenses. The United States alleged that this conduct amounted to a pattern or practice by law enforcement officers which deprives individuals of their rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 14141. The United States also argued that these violations resulted from the City's failure to provide adequate policies, training and supervision.
This lawsuit is the culmination of an 18 month-long investigation of the PPB by the DOJ pursuant to Section 14141. That investigation, which began in June of 2011, was prompted by the high number of PPB officer-involved shootings that involved individuals with mental illness. On September 13, 2012, DOJ issued a Findings Letter
which stated that it found reasonable cause to believe the PPB was engaging in unconstitutional conduct, and that it had identified serious deficiencies in policies, training, and officer accountability measures that substantially contributed to this conduct. That same day, the DOJ and the City released a joint statement declaring the parties' mutual intent to reach a negotiated settlement agreement to resolve these issues.
On December 17, 2012-the same date the complaint was filed-the parties filed a joint motion to enter a settlement agreement and conditionally dismiss the action pursuant to Rule 41(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, subject to the court retaining jurisdiction to enforce the agreement. The proposed settlement agreement includes detailed provisions addressing PPB policies and practices regarding: (1) use of force; (2) dealing with persons perceived as or actually suffering from mental illness or mental health crises; (3) dealing with persons suffering from addictions and behavioral health challenges; (4) crisis intervention; (5) identifying at-risk employees; (6) officer accountability; (7) training; (8) supervision; (9) misconduct complaint intake, investigation, and adjudication; (10) transparency and oversight; and (11) community engagement. Proposed Settlement Agreement
. The proposed settlement agreement also includes provisions regarding the implementation and enforcement of its terms. Id.
On December 18, 2012, the Portland Police Association ("PPA"), a labor union representing employees of the Portland Police Bureau, filed a motion to intervene. On January 8, 2013, a coalition of organizations seeking reform of Portland police practices also moved to intervene. Both these parties wished to participate in any negotiations of the proposed settlement agreement. On February 19, 2013, the District Court (Judge Michael H. Simon) granted in part and deferred in part PPA's motion. Op. and Order 3, Feb. 19, 2013
. The court also denied in part and deferred in part the coalition's motion, but granted them "enhanced amicus
status for remedy purposes." Id.
Ultimately, both parties were allowed to participate in the settlement negotiations.
All parties reached a tentative agreement regarding the terms of the proposed settlement in December 2013. On August 29, 2014, the District Court issued an order entering the settlement agreement and conditionally dismissing the litigation. Order Entering Settlement Agreement
. The Court retained jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1345, to enforce any provision of the Settlement Agreement or the two agreements that resulted from the parties' settlement negotiations. The Court further ordered the City to direct the Compliance Officer/Community Liaison, a position created under the Settlement Agreement, to provide copies to the Court of all final quarterly reports which are referenced in the Settlement Agreement. Finally, the Court also directed the parties to attend annual settlement-compliance hearings.
On October 27, 2014, the City appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As of November 28, 2014, litigation is ongoing.Greg in den Berken - 09/20/2014
Richard Jolly - 11/28/2014