Portland voters approve creation of new civilian-run police oversight board
Voters in Portland on Tuesday approved a voting measure to create a new police oversight board, touted as having more powers to hold officers accountable to the public.
Measure 26-217, which create the framework for the new police oversight board managed by civilians which would investigate all complaints of misconduct by city officials and impose discipline in cases where violations were found, rose from 82% to 18%, according to partial returns as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.
The new Police Oversight Board is expected to replace the Independent Police Review, which, together with the Police Bureau’s Internal Affairs Unit, investigates complaints of officer misconduct. The existing police oversight committee has drawn criticism because it cannot investigate shootings involving officers or cases in which people die in custody, cannot make its findings public, and has no jurisdiction. say in the discipline of officers convicted of offenses.
The measure will also require council funding to be at least 5% of the Police Bureau’s budget, or about $ 11.5 million this year. The independent police review has a budget of almost $ 3 million.
Opponents have questioned the legality of the new police supervisory board. They also said the proposal was rushed in the November ballot. And they say barriers like state law, city code and the current police union contract will prevent any monitoring system from being more effective than the one currently in place.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who has championed the ballot measure, said after the results were announced she believed the proposal had been well approved and expected a legal challenge from the Portland Police Union .
“I expect them to file a complaint so it won’t be a surprise,” Hardesty said. “But because the voters have exceeded this margin by more than 80%, I think the lawyers of the city will be convinced that they can rigorously defend the will of the people in court.