As the year 2005 fades away, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about what the Portland Police Bureau has accomplished this past year, as well as some initiatives that are scheduled for 2006.
As head of an agency dedicated to community policing, I believe the community became an even greater part of the equation in 2005. Over the last year, members of the community participated in newly formed advisory groups that included hiring police officers, as well as the Use of Force Performance Review Board, which reviews incidents and makes recommendations to the chief.
This is in addition to our numerous advisory groups that include the African American Advisory Group, The Chief's Forum, Sexual Minority Roundtable, Asian Law Enforcement Council of Oregon, Arab-Muslim Police Advisory Committee, the Hispanic Advisory Committee, the Developmental Disability Advisory Committee and the Crisis Intervention Team Advisory Committee.
These advisory boards meet regularly with me or the assistant chiefs to review the bureau's policies, training issues and other integral aspects of what an officer does and why he or she does it. As a result, officers were trained in cultural competency last year, and this year, they are receiving training on perspectives in profiling.
Last year, the community stepped up to help the bureau transform two critical policies involving the use of Tasers and the use of deadly force. Last year also marked the first time we threw open our precinct doors and invited the community to come to open houses — mini public safety fairs, designed to allow community members to talk to officers about any concerns or issues they have in their neighborhood. We also held our second Citizens Academy, where community members spent weeks learning about why police do what we do.
And finally, we took the time to look back in history and honor the Portland Police Bureau's first African American officer. Officer Charles Duke was awarded the bureau's Achievement Medal posthumously for his contributions as a role model and mentor for others who followed in the profession of law enforcement. This was a particularly proud moment for me, as I stood with Officer Duke's family and was able to learn more about a true pioneer who sacrificed much to serve the city of Portland.
So what will the coming year bring? The police bureau will once again be asking community members for their input on our policies. The bureau will revise its vehicle pursuit policy and add a foot pursuit policy. In fact, I have asked for an extensive review of all of the bureau's 193 policy directives. I want a committee of citizens and bureau members to compare us side by side to other law enforcement agencies in major cities. I want to look at national best practices and ensure that we have no gaps or hidden issues.
The police bureau will establish an Office of Professional Standards that will oversee our internal affairs process, but will also develop an early intervention system for its members. This new system will monitor employee performance to provide positive career support, identify problems early and support the bureau's goal to encourage personnel and improve accountability. This is really about analyzing ourselves before a crisis or incident emerges.
Finally, the bureau is applying to the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies to begin an accreditation process. This will ensure that all areas of the bureau — including policies and training — are meeting established standards. Following accreditation, members of the commission will continue to review our agency every few years to ensure that we continue with the established standards. This enormous project will involve a lot of assistance from community members.
Community members have told me that their priority is getting the precincts back to a 24-7 operation. I will work with Mayor Tom Potter to see if we can determine a fiscal option that will work.
As with any new year, I am sure there will be twists and turns that were not anticipated. I believe our work over the last two years has set us on a good path to cope with those challenges. I want to thank many of you who have supported the Portland Police Bureau directly or indirectly. If you aren't already, I want to invite you to join us, either by attending neighborhood meetings and our advisory groups or by providing critical feedback. We want to continue to re-think community policing through the city's community vision process.
It is my goal to continue to work toward institutionalizing the community policing philosophy within the bureau and to ensure that we are in step with community expectations. But in the end, it is the community that will decide.
The Portland Police Bureau is committed to reducing crime and the fear of crime and improving neighborhood livability. I will continue to urge our officers to use every community policing effort, including building relationships in the community in which they serve, to support this goal.
May the coming new year bring happiness and good health to you and your family.
Derrick Foxworth is Portland's chief of police.