PORTLAND, Ore. - Kendra James, James Chasse and Aaron Campbell all died, unarmed, at the hands of Portland police. And Portland citizens are still seeking answers.
This weekend dozens of people gathered to demand higher standards and better training for those in the Portland Police Bureau. They voiced their concerns to the Citizens Review Committee at Portland State University on Sunday.
For Portland parents, such as one we spoke to, this issue hits home: "I want to be able to send my kids on the TriMet system, without worrying about not just the gangs but also the violence of Portland police." (See "After shooting, newspaper urges people to not call police.")
Many in Sunday's crowd said there needs to be more accountability, with some having strong words for Portland police. Speakers at the Citizens Review Committee called for the following:
- More training for officers on the use of force,
- Internal investigations conducted faster and
- Those who use excessive force to be taken off the street.
The forum was organized months ago to discuss the death of James Chasse, the mentally-ill man who died three years ago from blunt-force trauma after police tackled him and took him into custody. People at this forum said they still want to know why it took the police bureau three years to complete its internal investigation.
"They haven't done anything yet," said Jason Renaud from Portland's Mental Health Association. "There's nothing that has been done or changed, so this could happen tomorrow."
New deaths also entered the discussion. Campbell's January death brought a number of people out. He was shot after Officer Ron Frachour said he thought Campbell was reaching for a gun.
Renaud said he is skeptical the meeting will bring change, but citizens such as Jonathon Little said he is encouraged. He even brought his little girl, and his video camera to document the event.
"She needs to understand and find out how the system works," Little said, "so that she can stand up [and know] that she ... is part of the community."
Members of the Review Committee said each of the members will make specific recommendations to Portland's city council based on the public comments. Citizens are invited to weigh in on the issue with the CRC Community Forum on Police Accountability. Comments can be left by phone at (503) 823-0926, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at:
Independent Police Review Division
1221 S.W. 4th Ave., Room 310
Portland, OR 97204
However, a spokesperson for the Portland Police Association tells us the review committee isn't trained in police tactics or procedure, and cannot judge police accountability in these matters.
Meanwhile, Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer announced Feb. 16 her plans to request a look into Aaron Campbell's case by Portland's Use of Force Review Board, with results by the end of June.