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Portland Police Make Changes After DOJ Smacks Seattle

By Jonah Spangenthal-Lee January 4, 2012

Having seen the fallout from the Department of Justice's scathing report on the Seattle Police Department, law enforcement officials in Portland are already working to fix some of the management problems the feds just ripped SPD for, according to The Oregonian.

Last month, the DOJ slammed SPD for a "pattern" of excessive force and lack of oversight, and specifically singled out a disconnect between the department's sergeants—who act as supervisors, trainers, and coaches—and beat officers.

Now, the Portland police department—also under investigation by the DOJ for use of force and civil rights violations—is changing how its sergeants supervise officers on patrol:
A new directive signed Jan. 1 requires Portland sergeants to respond immediately to any scene where an officer uses force that results in injury or when a person complains an officer used inappropriate force that caused injury.

Supervisors are receiving two hours of training this week and next to learn how to secure or photograph evidence, obtain statements from officers and witnesses, and document it all in a use of force after-action report that would be forwarded to an assistant chief.

The directive, which takes effect Jan. 15, marks a significant departure from past practice. Until now, officers have filled out use of force reports that sergeants signed, and supervisors wrote after-action reports largely based on officers' reports of what occurred.

It also represents the first major change made by the bureau since the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation in June to determine if there was a pattern of excessive force use by Portland police. The federal inquiry is ongoing.

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