‘Racial Profiling’ plan vetted at outer East Portland program

Find out all about the Portland Police Bureau’s “Plan to Address Racial Profiling”, and why the meeting to discuss it was held at the East Portland Community Center …

Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer talks with the facilitator of the “Plan to Address Racial Profiling”, held in outer East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Portland Police Bureau’s “Plan to Address Racial Profiling” was scrutinized at a public meeting, in order to give citizens an opportunity to address their concerns.

If you’re not aware of this document, CLICK HERE to see a PDF of the 36-page report.

Before the meeting began, we asked Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Chief Rosie Sizer why the East Portland Community Center was chosen for the meeting on April 2.

“East Portland is one of the most racially diverse, economically diverse, and youthful parts of our city,” replied Sizer. “I hope to have a real dialogue, and get some feedback. I hope people will see that they can find ways to help facilitate the realization of the elements of the plan. I want to continue this engagement.  We’re very lucky to be working with the Office of Human Relations, and the Human Relations Commission to move this plan forward.”

Chief Sizers calls the meeting to order and tells of how the document came into existence.

History of the “Plan to Address Racial Profiling”
When she was appointed interim chief of police about three years ago, Sizer said it was brought to her attention that the PPB had not “reported on contact data selection. This is data we take when we conduct traffic or subject stops. People have wanted this information.”

She said it has been about two years since the data was reported at that time.

“Then, we developed a partnership with Oregon Action. We talked with people and held ‘listening sessions’.  Police officers and community members – especially community of colors – talked about their experience regarding traffic stops, and more racially-charged issues. (To learn more about the Oregon Action organization, CLICK HERE.)

“Clearly, in the history of Portland, there’ve been a number of those incidents. There has been historic tension between the Portland Police Bureau and communities of color. We’ve had very frank and respectful conversations.”

Based on these meetings, Sizer said Oregon Action published a report.

The Mayor at the time, Sizer continued, committed to swiftly completing a plan based on the report. “The plan was wildly optimistic – optimistic and good-hearted – but optimistic. This committee met for over two years. During this time, we identified elements of an idea to be used in the Racial Profiling Plan.”

Four areas of progress outlined
Sizer said the bureau’s “Plan to Address Racial Profiling” published in February, 2009, points how they plan to “make progress” in four principal areas:

  1. Recruiting – developing a more diverse PPB workforce.
  2. Engagement – working with communities of color to the mutual benefit of that community and the police officers’ only contact with that community during 9-1-1 emergency calls. “You can get a very perverse look at the world by responding to 9-1-1 calls. We’re looking to engage in more creative and collaborative ways,” Sizer noted.
  3. Training – developing training policies and practices.
  4. Data collection – making sure the data collected reflects the nature of the contacts.

“Much of the Racial Profiling Committee data has been debated,” Sizer acknowledged.  “I think many of us on the committee, over time, came to the realization that we may never know what the best data is, or what all the data means. But there are certainly things we can do to improve the situation for community members and police officers alike.”

Maria Lisa Johnson, Director of the Portland Office of Human Relations, asks the group to make suggestions and outline challenges they see with the plan.

Discussion groups comment
With that, Sizer introduced Maria Lisa Johnson, “the director of the city’s smallest bureau, the Portland Office of Human Relations.”

Present, along with the citizens at the tables, was a facilitator from the Office of Human Relations, a member of the Human Rights Commission, and a member of the upper command staff of the Portland Police Bureau.

“The goal is to go through some of the strategy we’ve identified [in the Plan] to make things better in our community,” Johnson explained. “And then, to work through two principal questions: ‘What suggestions do you have to make things better in our community oversight, and what suggestions do you have to strengthen our approach to the proposed strategies?  And, what challenges do you see in the strategies, and why?'”

Results from the feedback sessions have not yet been published. Johnson said that a web presence for commenting on the plan has not been established – but citizens can call their office at (503) 823-5510, or use their online response form: CLICK HERE.

Citizen Kevin Foster sits with Northeast Precinct Commander Jim Ferraris, East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs, and participant Sean McShane, as they discuss the Plan.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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