Portland’s primary police oversight system is overseen by the City Auditor’s Independent Police Review Division (IPR). IPR was founded in 2001 after a citizen-led initiative to overhaul the twenty-year old system then in place. Since then, it has both been touted as one of the nation’s best police oversight agencies, and been criticized by Portlanders for inaccessibility and a lack of transparency around its investigations.
Along with the Police Bureau’s Internal Affairs division, IPR investigates complaints of police misconduct, ranging from rude behavior to casual brutality to violence against protesters. Complaints come from citizens, other cops, and from IPR’s own initiative. The investigations go through a complicated review process ending with the Bureau’s decision on whether the officer broke policy and what the discipline should be. Complainants who aren’t satisfied can appeal the decision to the Citizen Review Committee, which is also part of IPR and the only part of the process involving people who aren’t city employees or contractors.
The current IPR director is Ross Caldwell, a former Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney and Program Director at the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission.
KBOO spoke with Caldwell last week about several topics, including IPR’s response to calls for abolition and reform; difficulty obtaining Police Bureau data; lack of transparency; the relationship between police directives and officer's individual discretion; complaints related to police attacks on protesters; IPR's methods for identifying cops without name badges; and the future of the Citizen Review Committee. It was recorded on Tuesday, July 14, shortly after federal agents arrived in Portland.