March 22, 2005
(Updated) Resolution Establishing Criteria For JTTF Participation To Be Unveiled
Would Apply To Any Such Inter-Governmental Task Force
Note: This post has been updated. Any and all updates appear at the end of the original post.
Tomorrow afternoon, Mayor Tom Potter and Commissioner Randy Leonard will unveil a resolution which would establish specific requirements in order for Portland Police Bureau officers to participate in Federal task forces, including the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Two weeks ago, we reported that the resolution, originally proposed by Leonard, was being reviewed by Potter and was expected "soon".
While clearly stating the importance of the "health, safety, and welfare" of Portlanders, and the value of partnerships with other agencies, the resolution makes clear that officers must be accountable to the Chief of Police and Commissioner-in-charge (normally the Mayor) of the Police Bureau.
The resolution formally establishes that the Commissioner responsible for the Police Bureau has the authority to negotiate written agreements with the Federal government relating to Bureau participation in task forces such as (but not limited to) the JTTF, subject to approval and adoption by City Council as a whole. But it also spells out certain non-negotiable elements for those agreements.
If adopted by City Council, all agreements such as that governing Portland's participation in the Joint Terrorism Task Force would be required to include: Security clearances for the Chief of Police, Commissioner-in-charge for the Police Bureau, and the City Attorney equal to those given to the officers assigned to the task force; acknowledgment of the restrictions imposed upon Bureau personnel by ORS 181.575 and ORS 181.850 (something already included in the oversight protocol established by former Mayor Vera Katz); and the participation of the Commissioner-in-charge in any committee responsible for overseeing any task force which includes Police Bureau personnel.
In addition, the resolution would establish that City Council would review all such agreements to ensure compliance with these criteria, and that no Police Bureau personnel can be assigned to task forces authorized by such agreements until City Council has approved them.
Under current oversight processes, the officers assigned to the JTTF receive security clearances higher than those given to the Chief and Mayor, and no Council approval is required for Police Bureau officers to be assigned to the JTTF. While the former issue has prompted questions as to the ability to engage in real oversight of those officers' activities, the latter issue has received little to no public attention.
The resolution's requirements appear to seek to address both of these issues. Current procedures, as previously-reported here, also appear to be based almost entirely upon the assigned officers' self-certification that they are in compliance with the above-mentioned provisions of Oregon law. Equalizing the security clearances likely would address that issue as well, by placing the accountability with the Chief and Commissioner-in-charge.
Language included in the resolution specifically states that it is not intended to prohibit "cooperation and collaboration" on specific cases or investigations.
In addition to establishing these criteria for new task force agreements, the resolution would require that currently existing task forces -- such as the Joint Terrorism Task Force -- comply with those criteria within 90 days of its adoption by City Council.
As previously-reported, the Mayor's office has been reviewing the proposal and providing its own input. Potter reportedly had wanted to discuss the matter further with interested parties and other Council members before bringing a resolution forward. It is unknown at this time whether or not tomorrow's filing means that all parties -- read: the Federal Bureau of Investigation -- have signed off on the criteria.
Normally, any resolution filed in one week would be placed on the City Council agenda for the following week. As of this posting, it's not known if the 6:00 PM "special meeting" listed for March 30 is related to this resolution.
First off, here is the resolution (pdf) bring filed today. Secondly, we have confirmation from John Doussard, the Mayor's director of communications, that the City Council's "special meeting" scheduled for next Wednesday at 6:00 PM indeed is to take up this resolution.
Finally, for now, there's an Oregonian article this morning on the resolution. Those who read closely will notice some aspects of the current oversight procedures (which we've been reported upon for weeks) in fact finally are mentioned.
In addition, the article quotes the local FBI office as saying that Potter had not contacted Special Agent-in-Charge Robert Jordan about the criteria contained in this resolution. Our original understanding was that Federal authorities were amongst the parties with whom Potter wanted to discuss the resolution before he and Leonard brought it forward.
We'll try to sort that part out during this afternoon's news conference.