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BACKGROUND: Portland Police Boycott of Oversight Meetings Rooted in Dispute Over VideographerApril 25, 2016 (updated May 8, 2016)
On April 20, the Citizen Review Committee (CRC) had to postpone hearing an appeal of misconduct because the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) refused to send any employees to attend. While the decision was presumed to be a result of a community member tossing a cup of water at a CRC member on March 30, public records received by Flying Focus Video Collective (FFVC) reveal that the Bureau was seeking a way out of the meetings for months.
Below is the analysis of selected portions of the public records received by FFVC in trying to determine how the CRC was having discussions about relocating the camera operated by FFVC at their meetings. Dan Handelman of FFVC has been taping police oversight bodies in Portland since 1992, when the board was known as PIIAC. He also attends the meetings on behalf of Portland Copwatch (PCW), a civilian group promoting police accountability, and makes comments on behalf of PCW during public comment periods. Occasionally, CRC members do not seem familiar with their own protocols, and with the staff of the Independent Police Review Division (IPR), which houses CRC, failing to advise the Committee, Mr. Handelman occasionally interjects a point of order to remind them of their rules. This happens maybe 2-3 times a year at monthly or bimonthly meetings. The discussion sometimes broadened out to discuss media in general, but mostly was focused as a personal or political rebuke to FFVC. It is important to know that Flying Focus is a media organization which has produced a number of shows about PIIAC/IPR going back to 1992, most of which are listed at <http://www.flyingfocus.org/ffvc22.html>.
It should be noted that an email exchange between Mr. Handelman and then-CRC Chair Mae Wilson was not included in the original packet but is an important addition to the file. It should also be noted that IPR incorrectly categorized the records request and asked only for emails among CRC members, which means emails to/from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and/or Portland Police Association (PPA) were not included in this first batch of emails. Flying Focus will follow up.
A short video from a 2013 CRC hearing showing the room where nearly every hearing was held from 2002-2014 can be seen at: <https://youtu.be/_zrDx-vVjCU>.
Images illustrating the CRC's setup on April 20 and comparing camera angles can be seen at <http://www.flyingfocus.org/crc2016b.html>.
There are 10 pdfs of the various communications below which collectively take up 19 MB of space. Other documents from the records which are of interest but not directly related to this topic but of interest to the broader community are also available on request.
CRC member Angelo Turner urges Chair Wilson to "reign in" Handelman for "weighing in on questions about directives, process, etc." Wilson agrees Handelman should not get "special treatment." NOTE: This email exchange mostly deals with points of order Mr. Handelman made as a member of PCW because the CRC was not following or did not seem to know its own protocols.
November 18, 2015 (Wilson/Handelman)
Chair Wilson wrote an email to Handelman at PCW, asking him to move his video camera to the back of the hearing room in order to "enable me to better see" members of the public. There is no mention made about commentary, how the camcorder affects other participants, or other concerns that show up later. Handelman replied that he needs to "capture video of CRC and the appellant" so moving is not a good option.
November 18, 2015 (Turner)
Mr. Turner wrote to Chair Wilson asking if IPR staff knew about "the plan to direct Mr. Handelman to film and sit in the public section of our meeting room... it makes me uncomfortable to have Mr. Handelman basically right 'onstage' with us and just a few feet from our table." Mr. Turner adds that he found Mr. Handelman's comments as a member of Portland Copwatch regarding CRC protocols "disruptive" and states that "I think the proximity of the camera is invasive and it lends itself to disruptions and sidebars."
November 23 and December 1, 2015 (Daryl Turner/Wilson)
NEW INFO! PPA President Daryl Turner asks Chair Wilson if there are any "updates" regarding the "conversation that you and I and Angelo had a few weeks ago." Wilson responds that she "spoke with Mr. Handleman [sic] and am working on a compromise." Daryl Turner thanks her for her efforts. This email, not included in the original packet, is proof positive that CRC discussed not general guidelines for media, but specifically Mr. Handelman's camera, with the "union."
December 1, 2015 (Turner/Wilson)
In response to an email in which Chair Wilson announces her intent to incorporate ground rules for the next night's CRC meeting, Mr. Turner prompted her "again" to ask "Mr. Handelman to please place himself in the public area vs up front with the committee." He adds, "We had a long, and I thought, productive conversation around this." It's not clear who the "we" in this sentence means, but this discussion did not happen at a public CRC meeting.
December 2 and December 16, 2015 (Wilson/Turner)
Mr. Turner wrote to Chair Wilson to express his "dismay" that "Copwatch occupied the same 'VIP' berth away from the public, and that no one directed it's [sic] members to address the committee from the appellant/public table vs over my shoulder." It should be noted here that the Committee has always been at least 6-10 feet away from Mr. Handelman, and that it's interesting that police officers' complaints about being videotaped "over the shoulder" (reflected below) are being echoed by Mr. Turner, ostensibly a neutral member of CRC who should identify neither with the public nor the police. In that light, he adds, "Imagine yourself sitting at the PPB desk with that camera and these comments behind you the entire meeting. Its [sic] very uncomfortable and all that the POA [sic]* and I asked for was that Copwatch be treated equally-- just like everyone else from the public."
Chair Wilson replied two weeks later that she "spoke with Mr. Handleman [sic] and thought we had come to a nice compromise," stating that the camera had been moved to a new location [NOTE: we're not sure that this is accurate] but that the location was "very upsetting to you [Turner]." She encourages Turner to raise the issue with the whole Committee, and notes that the appellant's table is not normally used for the general public to approach the CRC.
*--Police Officers Association is a term for many organizations similar to the PPA
February 26, 2016 (Ramos/Malone/Nguyen)
IPR Staffer David Nguyen says that Mr. Turner, speaking on behalf of the new Chair, Kristin Malone, asked to move the meeting from Room C at the Portland Building into the Auditorium, with Nguyen registering his own opinion that Room C is a better location.
Chair Malone agrees with the idea, referencing "the up close and personal filming" that happened the previous night as "inappropriate and distracting."
Mr. Nguyen replies that "Mr. Davis, the one who did the up close filming is not a frequent CRC attendance [sic]. Angelo's concern is more with Mr. Handelman filming behind the Police Bureau's side." [Kif Davis is a member of Multnomah County Copwatch, not Flying Focus or Portland Copwatch.]
Julie Ramos, the new Vice Chair (whose name is inexplicably redacted in the email she wrote) replies that she wants the meeting to stay in Room C, adding "Dan handelman [sic] does not invade anyone's space."
February 26, 2016 (Ramos/Nguyen/Malone)
Chair Malone asks if there's a reason not to use the auditorium, "or why Mr. Handelman needs to film from behind the bureau reps?" Malone, who works as a lawyer, claims "Mr. Handelman can get a better angle, and the meeting participants all feel more secure." [NOTE: ironically, the incident in which a CRC member had water thrown on them happened when CRC was in the auditorium.]
Ms. Ramos (again, with her name blacked out) states her firm position against changing rooms, asking for a discussion to take place about the matter.
Chair Malone agrees to discuss in the CRC's (as yet uninitiated) executive committee, but notes "I did hear a complaint from the bureau personnel at our last case review that she and others were made uncomfortable by being filmed over their shoulders, and I'm sensitive to that concern." [NOTE: Mr. Handelman's camera is always at least 3-4 feet away from the officers' table so there is plenty of room to pull out their chairs and allow safe passage of people walking by.]
March 2, 2016 (Texts-Turner/Malone/Ramos)
In what appear to be a series of texts, first between Mr. Turner and Ms. Malone, then between Ms. Malone and Ms. Ramos, the following discussion evolved:
In a thread marked "10:55 AM", Mr. Turner informs Chair Malone that "nothing has been done re Copwatch sitting behind the bureau" and that Mr. Nguyen said it is the Chair's role to ask "them" to sit in the public area. Chair Malone says that Ms. Ramos "will be... asking that copwatch [sic] set up on the opposite side, behind IPR, to respond to discomfort from bureau members." [NOTE: In one of the only undocumented exchanges in the development of this issue, Ms. Ramos did talk to Mr. Handelman at the beginning of the March 2 meeting, claiming that the Bureau's discomfort was that he was somehow filming their confidential documents on their table. Since Mr. Handelman uses a VHS camera with very low resolution, and is behind the backs of officers who are blocking the table, this is not only an absurd accusation but physically impossible. Ms. Ramos asked Mr. Handelman to move to the other side of the room, to sit behind IPR staff rather than behind the PPB. Mr. Handelman noted that he would consider the idea.]
In a thread from later that day (the time stamp is obscured) Mr. Turner asserts that "Julie asked Dan to relocate to public gallery. He refused. Kiosha [Ford, another CRC member] made comments backing Julie up. He refused." He then suggests not showing up for meetings until Mr. Nguyen changes the venue. Chair Malone replies that she is not willing to cancel meetings over the issue.
Mr. Turner replies that "You won't have any officers come participate meaningfully until this is dealt with. You saw for yourself how Chief O'Dea was treated with the Copwatch guy with the handheld camera" [Mr. Davis] Angelo Turner expresses frustration about the meetings not being moved. Chair Malone replies that they did not ask for the meetings to be moved, they wanted to "simply ask Dan to move instead."
Mr. Turner asserts that Jim Young (another CRC member) felt Ms. Ramos was "too nice," adding that he, Mr. Young and Ms. Ford "think that it's time to flat out tell him he sits with the media and the public. He will bitch and moan but that's ok."
At 9:54 PM that day, Chair Malone texts Ms. Ramos that she is getting a "text barrage" from Mr. Turner. "He said we should CANCEL MEETINGS [sic] until Dan caved." Ms. Ramos replies that she thinks "dan [sic] could be persuaded."
Chair Malone notes that this is not a high priority issue, and "If Dan is flexible, great. Or if IPR and the bureau want to switch sides if Dan won't, fine." [NOTE: This is the first time anyone came up with this rather sensible option, if the expressed concerns are to be taken at face value.] Ms. Ramos agrees and says "Dan seemed annoyed that folks weren't coming to him directly." [That is an accurate statement-- Mr. Handelman did note to Ms. Ramos that if people had a problem with his location or his video he'd prefer they talk to him directly.]
March 3, 2016 (Turner/Ramos/Nguyen)
At 9:43 PM on March 2, Mr. Turner wrote to Mr. Nguyen asking "for a fourth time" to move the meetings to the auditorium. "I understand from two CRC members that Dan Handelman was asked to relocate to the public area and he refused. It isn't his meeting."
Mr. Nguyen replies that "the issue with Mr. Handelman has been addressed last night. Vice Chair Ramos and Mr. Young had a long conversation with him about it." This is not fully accurate. There was a brief private discussion at the beginning of the meeting between Ramos and Mr. Handelman, and a longer one among CRC members including Ms. Ford, Ms. Ramos and Roberto Rivera, but no "long conversation" that directly involved Mr. Handelman or any public input. As noted above, the request was to change sides, not to move out with the general public. Ms. Ford's comment, made publicly, was that the Police Association did not like Mr. Handelman "right on their back, right in their face" with the camera. See <https://youtu.be/A1X4Ghz03Mo>.
Mr. Turner adds Mr. Young into the email thread and repeats that he was told Mr. Handelman "refused to move."
Ms. Ramos notes that "Dan did not refuse but wanted to think about it" and reminds Mr. Turner that he does not have the authority to change the meeting's location.
Mr. Turner writes that the CRC needs to decide where people sit, agreeing that the executive committee and then the 11 member body can vote on the issue. He states "the behavior of Copwatch representatives at the last meeting with Chief O'Dea was unacceptable to me and others. IA [Internal Affairs] staff has repeatedly asked that Mr. Handelman be asked to relocate like anyone else from the public. By doing this, we will increase the odds the PPA will encourage officers to participate in our meetings."
April 4, 2016 (Turner/Nguyen)
In what's obviously an incorrect statement given all of the above, Mr. Turner, who resigned from the CRC prior to March 30, tells Mr. Nguyen that the only exchange he had about this issue was on November 18.
UPDATE: PPB Returns to CRC meetings 5/4/16
After Flying Focus prompted the CRC to hold a public meeting discussing its guidelines, the CRC, community members, and the Bureau agreed to a compromise wherein FFVC would be able to continue videotaping from essentially the same spot. The Bureau agreed to sit at the opposite side of
the hearing room for their comfort. This resolution was reported on by Oregonlive on April 29:
Page posted 4/24/16, updated 4/25/16 and 5/8/16
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