On 12 September 2012, US Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Thomas Perez, released Findings that the City of Portland has engaged in patterns and practices of illegal conduct. Consult Hardesty was invited into a private meeting whereby Perez and US Attorney for Oregon, Amanda Marshall, announced results of a 14-month investigation into the Portland Police Bureau. Both partners of Consult Hardesty had provided evidence and convened independent, public forums to solicit testimony.
We were given notice that the City and the DoJ expected to come to agreement and avoid a Federal trial. Given the quality of input we were able to provide, we were encouraged to participate in negotiations of an effective remedy for violations to The People’s constitutional protections.
Jo Ann Hardesty declared, after analyzing 42 pages of Findings, that, “The Department of Justice reveals that institutional police misconduct is worse than I thought.” Knowing police policy and on-the-street practice better than most of the citizenry, this was a substantially troubling conclusion. Indeed: the City’s once temporary and subsequently institutionalized system for review of police self-investigation was termed a ‘self-defeating accountability system,’ by the DoJ.
Given our prolonged exposure to the City’s refusal to follow formalized recommendations from the public, provided in part by forums and community listening sessions Jo Ann has organized, and years of refusal to act on reports to subsequent administrations by the City’s own consultants, Consult Hardesty prepared a bold response in a timely manner to City and Federal negotiators.
Read here the Consult Hardesty proposal for a collaborative, cross-discipline, multi-jurisdictional model designed to reform police conduct. Our comprehensive, visionary solution has three parts. It convenes a Civilian Compliance & Reform Authority to oversee that provisions of a City/DoJ Agreement are carried out, while also enabling a Civilian Oversight Authority as an enduring accountability structure responsive to the community. The third cornerstone of our proposal to the DoJ was for a Constitutional Rights & Oversight Center. We believe, ultimately, it is The People’s responsibility to defend their civil rights. Funded by sources external to the City of Portland, this feature was designed to foster outreach and education and to facilitate the entry into public service those who’ve been historically excluded. Long-standing relationships among philanthropists and charitable giving foundations helped us refine the model prior to seeking City & DoJ buy-in.
Here is the cover letter by which we sought to inspire Perez with a comprehensive, systemic solution to civil rights violations.