Thanks to efforts by NLG law student Briana Swift, the Citizen Review Committee recently voted to disagree with the Portland Police Bureau’s finding in a police misconduct complaint. Floyd McCorvey brought the complaint to the Portland Independent Police Review Division (IPR) after he was stopped by two police officers and immediately questioned as to whether he was a pimp, merely because he had briefly chatted with a woman. The senior officer also made comments about his low-income housing, and told him he needed to stay in his own neighborhood.
Mr. McCorvey, who is African-American, alleged that the officers’ conduct was discriminatory. The IPR refused to investigate that allegation. Instead, it referred the matter to the Police Bureau’s Internal Affairs division to investigate whether the officer was discourteous. The bureau eventually found that allegation ‘unproven.’
Ms. Swift served as Mr. McCorvey’s advocate in his appeal of that finding to the Citizen Review Committee. At the appeal hearing, the Citizen Review Committee voted to recommend the Police Bureau change its finding from unproven to sustained on the complaint that the senior officer was discourteous to McCorvey. The Oregonian and the Mercury both wrote stories on the hearing.
The Bureau will now decide whether to accept the recommendation. If it does not accept it, the Citizen Review Committee will vote on whether to refer the matter to City Council for a final decision on the matter.
The NLG is working with the Oregon Justice Resource Center to expand its IPR advocacy program to serve more individuals who seek to file police misconduct complaints. While the NLG recognizes the many flaws with the IPR complaint system, it believes that its participation in the system as an advocate for complainants assisting will aid its efforts at reform.