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Officer to air his side in shooting

Scott McCollister awaits disciplinary action in James case

Portland Police Chief Mark Kroeker could announce the discipline he wants to impose on officer Scott McCollister for shooting Kendra James as early as today.

McCollister is scheduled to meet with Kroeker today to plead his side of the case, according to Sgt. Brian Schmautz, the police bureau's public information officer.

'The chief could announce his decision within a matter of hours, or it could take days or even longer,' Schmautz said.

Although Kroeker has said he wants to suspend McCollister for 'several months,' union contract provisions governing discipline allow officers to explain any mitigating circumstances before the final decision is reached.

'Sometimes they give their side, sometimes they make PowerPoint presentations,' Schmautz said.

McCollister shot and killed James as she tried to drive away from a traffic stop May 5. A grand jury did not bring any charges in the case after McCollister testified that he feared for his life when James started to drive away while he was still partly inside the car. Several black community leaders have called for McCollister to be fired.

In a related matter, the community task force created by Kroeker in response to the shooting will hold its first meeting in the next couple of weeks.

The Community Policing Oriented Review Team will have a 'pretty ambitious' job, meeting every other week for two to three hours, said Assistant Chief Lynnae Berg, who is heading the group.

The goal is to review police policy and procedure on everything from staffing to training, and to come up with concrete solutions by November or December on how to improve the relationship between the police bureau and the community.

The 30 or so members include representatives from the Muslim, Asian, black, sexual minority and police communities, as well as from City Hall and Democratic state Sen. Avel Gordly's office.

'This isn't only about Kendra James,' Mayor Vera Katz said Friday. 'About every 10 years, every organization should look at itself. The syllabus is, what are the best practices in police organizations around the country?'

According to Tommy Brooks, Katz's spokesman, the mayor identified four priorities regarding the James case after the community forum on the incident last month.

They are: to find a way to restore citizen input in the officers' hirings; to have citizen input in some training procedures; to pursue a policy that would prohibit officers involved in shootings from talking to one another before they're interviewed by detectives; and to pursue expanded membership on the review team.

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