Public packs Portland City Council meeting to testify on police oversight proposal

by Maxine Bernstein of The Oregonian

Citing a profound distrust in Portland police oversight, the city auditor and Commissioner Randy Leonard presented their plan to strengthen the system to a packed City Council chambers Thursday.

Many attending wore stickers that said, "Police Community for Police Reform" and held bright-yellow signs that read, "We Support Police Accountability Now!"

"Everybody should have reached the point by now where they realize that something is broken in the Portland Police Bureau," Leonard said, citing cases in which the city paid large sums to settle lawsuits involving police use of force but no police discipline followed.

Speakers applauded the proposed ordinance that broadens the powers of the Independent Police Review Division as a first step in what should be a continued effort to improve police accountability. Some urged the council to take immediate action.

"The police have power and authority that is unmatched in our society," said Ashlee Albies, president of the Portland chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. "A system of checks and balances is all that we ask."

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