Internal Frashour review questioned


City Auditor finds no procedures governed deadly force review

More details about the decision to fire Portland Police Officer Ron Frashour are emerging as Mayor Sam Adams is preparing to ask the City Council to fight his reinstatement.

Among other things, the Portland Police Bureau had no Standard Operating Procedures in place to govern the internal review of whether Frashour violated its deadly force policies when he killed Aaron Campbell on Jan. 29, 2010.

The final version of that review, called a Training Analysis, concluded that Frashour violated the bureau's deadly force policies. But it was challenged during the hearing before a state arbitrator who ruled that Frashour be reinstated.

"We found the Police Bureau’s lack of a standard operating procedure for the development of training analyses to be problematic. Such procedures would define consistent objectives and practices for the development of Training Analysis documents in general. In this particular case, having no such guidance likely contributed to concerns about the purpose, objectivity, and transparency of the Training Analysis and the veracity of its conclusions," the report said.

Adams and Police Chief Mike Reese fired Frashour after the shooting, saying that he violated the bureau’s deadly force policies. The state Employment Relations Board has upheld the arbitrator's ruling that Frashour be reinstated. Adams will ask the council to appeal the rulings to the Oregon Court of Appeals on Thursday.

The review concluded that Frashour violated the policies. But most or all of the bureau’s trainers thought Frashour did not violate the policies, the report said.

According to the report, the difference between the review’s conclusion and the trainers’ opinions became an issue during the arbitration hearing. Some of the trainers were upset they were not consulted about the conclusion before the review was finalized. The report states there are no Standard Operating Procedures in place to govern the preparation of such reviews.

But the report also suggests that Reese did not believe he had to follow the reviews’ conclusions anyway. Reese said that although the command staff and outside advisors thought Frashour violated bureau policies, the final decision was his alone.

As noted in the report, “Reese went on to say that termination ‘was a decision that I struggled with. As I read through all of the material and had conversations with the assistant chiefs, and then the PRB [Police Review Board] I think was a watershed moment when the fact that you had peer members, citizen members, division command and the — and the chief’s office all reviewing the same thing I was reviewing and coming to the same conclusion . . . .’ He clarified that ‘while I place great importance on the various pieces of the process that we go through, the training analysis, the finding by the commander, the PRB, I still read that material and come to my own conclusion.”

The reported concluded that no one within the bureau felt political pressure to make a certain decision or gave false testimony during any of the reviews, arbitration hearings or court proceedings stemming from the shooting. It also recommended the bureau develop a set of procedures to govern and explain the purpose of future reviews of force incidents.

Frashour shot Campbell after a lengthy stadoff at a Northeast Portland hotel. Campbell, an African American, was unarmed when he was shot. The police had been told Campbell had a gun, however, and it was subsequently found in his hotel room.

The killing has already cost the city over $2 million. The money includes $1.2 million to settle a federal unlawful death lawsuit with Campbell’s family and at least $750,000 for outside attorneys to fight Frashour’s reinstatement to far.

The shooting was controversial from the start. Campbell, an African-American, was upset about the recent death of his brother. He had brought a gun to the Northeast Portland hotel where the standoff occurred, something the police had been told. Campbell was not armed when he was shot, however.

Community activists began protesting the shooting within days. The Rev. Jesse Jackson joined the protests and accused the police of murder. Adams and former Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman cited the Campbell killing when they asked the U.S. Department of Justice to review the police bureau’s relationship with minority communities. The department recently issued a report saying the police have a pattern of using too much force against the mentally ill and have a history of bad relations with racial minority communities.

The city must soon present the department with a plan for addressing the problems cited in the report.