NATIONAL COPS EVALUATION
ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE CASE STUDY:
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management
Case Study Prepared for the Urban Institute
The Portland Police Bureau is widely-recognized recognized as a national leader in community policing. The roots of that model already existed in Portland in the 1980s, before it officially underwent the transition for which it has become well-known: Portland neighborhoods have long had some access to their police, and the PPB has an established history of problem-solving that predates the ideas current popularity. On the other hand, the PPB of the 1980s lacked many crucial ingredients of community policing, like a well-developed planning capability, team-based management, and a formal process for tracking community problems. But by 1997, those systems and practices had been dramatically reorganized, and problem-solving and community input had reached new levels in Portland, despite some persistent tensions.
City government had pushed the PPB for some time to make many of these changes, but that push had little effect until the Bureau developed a capable and relatively stable series of Chiefs who had a well-developed vision of what community policing meant. Beginning with Richard Walker and Tom Potter, and continuing today under Charles Moose, PPB leadership has brought this vision to life in two ways: By building support for the new model both inside and outside the Bureau, and by retooling a number of important organizational systems. In all of these efforts, PPB leadership has drawn on the talents of a number of committed and innovative individuals within and outside of the Bureau.
This paper will try to describe and explain the changes that have taken place in Portland. Descriptively, I will try to reconstruct the PPB of the 1980s (section I) and to describe how the department operates today (section III).1 Those descriptions revolve around four major elements of the organization: Its relationship with its environment, its operations, its administrative systems, and its management. In section II, I will try to explain why and how the PPB changed. That discussion will focus on the role of leadership and the COPS grants in effecting the PPBs changes, but it will also consider other environmental influences, as well as the way in which the existing organizational structure and culture impeded or accelerated change.
I. THE PORTLAND POLICE BUREAU IN THE 1980s
1. Relationship to The Environment
Before its transition to community policing, the PPB was not quite the pure case of professional autonomy that many police departments during that era were. To be sure, particularly in the early part of the 1980s, Portland did express strong allegiance to the professional model of policing, and it was centrally concerned with accountability to the law and bureaucratic integrity, rather than to the community. Nevertheless, the PPB, more than many departments, was already working with many neighborhood groups during this period; and it was being held accountable by the local political system (though this happened mostly against its will, and often with mainly disruptive consequences).
A tight relationship between the Police Bureau and elected officials is built into Portlands governmental structure. To be sure, many levels of the Police Bureau are insulated from the political system by civil service laws and tradition. But at the highest level, city government is police management: By Portlands City Charter, the mayor can both appoint and remove the chief of police at will; and technically, he or she can act as the police commissioner, with day-to-day authority that can potentially trump the police chiefs own power.
Nevertheless, the personalities and ideologies that flesh out this structure have made or broken the actual relationship between the city and the PPB. During the 1980s, they mostly broke it.
Two patterns characterized police-government relations throughout this period. Early on, Chief Ronald Still and Mayor Frank Ivancie worked together to maintain a buffer between the police and city hall. In part this was just a matter of attitude: Within the PPB, Still struck the classic professional posture, focusing on professionalism inside the bureau rather than accountability outside of it; and on the city side, Ivancie apparently allowed and even encouraged a closed style of government in all city bureaus.2 But more concretely, Still and Ivancie together actively tried to block a significant attempt by city council to play a more direct role in police issues. The conflict arose over the recommendations of the Task Force on Police Internal Affairs (appointed in reaction to a recent series of PPB scandals), which called for a Council-appointed citizens advisory committee that would review internal affairs cases. Still and Ivancie refused to appoint the committee, but Council banded together to overrule them, creating the Police Internal Affairs Auditing Committee (PIIAC).3 The achievement was not, however, all the council had hoped for right away, as throughout the 1980s PIIAC was considered ineffectual.4
The citys 1984 mayoral elections promised to revamp the police-city relationship, as winning candidate Bud Clark explicitly ran against Ivancies closed government style, and specifically against Stills closed Police Department.5 Clark immediately appointed his own chief with a mandate to open up the Bureau (the PPBs entire command staff retired when the populist Clark became their boss), but success did not come quickly. Clark took office at the beginning of a long financial crisis in Portland, and budgetary haggles set the tone for police-city relations; the Bureau repeatedly lobbied for more funds when the city had less and less to give, taking its case directly to the mayor, council, the newspaper, and several city groups.6 The growing tensions came to a head in 1987, when Chief James Davis balked at the recommendations of a city performance audit of the PPB (the first of its kind in Portland), and Clark eventually fired him.7 By the time Clark appointed Richard Walker as chief and finally got community policing underway, he was on his sixth chief in three years.
Thus in the short run, city halls growing
interest in the PPB met with stiff resistance and led only to turbulence. Members
of the Bureau today remember their relationship with city hall as rocky. One
recalls, it was sort of a reluctant relationship in that both sides were
kind of leery of each other. Police from the patrol level to the chiefs
office apparently felt that council and the mayor didnt understand police
issues very well, so they viewed the oversight relationship with disdain.
There were, of course, exceptions to the dominant pattern of mutual reluctance, mostly from the city side. Councilmembers sometimes got involved in specific police operationsfor example, one councilor assigned an aid to help publicize an anti-prostitution mission, and city hall reportedly took a direct interest in how the Bureau staffed certain downtown footbeats.8 But for the most part, the city and the Bureau had little dialogue on public safety.
On the other hand, the PPB had already begun to pay attention to community opinionand particularly minority opinionby the late 1960s, when community relations became a national issue in policing. At first, that attention took the form of public relations rather than openness to community direction.9 But before long, the outside world began to put pressure on the PPB to work in a true collaboration with the community. In large part, the story of that slow change is the history of Portlands citywide system of neighborhood government.
Portland has enjoyed strong neighborhood associations since at least 1974, when mayor Neil Goldschmidta strong supporter of community activismdrew on federal Model City funds to establish the citys Office of Neighborhood Associations (ONA), partly in order to help carry out a state mandate to develop a new land-use plan for the city. ONAs role evolved somewhat over the years, but in essence it serves as the pinnacle of a three-tiered structure that connects individual neighborhoods to city government. At the top of that structure, ONA itself provides financial support and liaison services for Portlands neighborhood associations. The next layer consists of a number of nonprofits (today there are five), called neighborhood coalitions, that are supervised by an elected board of local citizens; each of the coalitions has a contract with ONA to support the neighborhood associations under its umbrella (for example, the coalitions provide technical support for activities like problem-solving, running meetings, and printing and distributing newsletters). The third and final level is made up of the neighborhood associations (NAs) themselves, which are citizen-run, volunteer organizations that address a wide range of community problems and opportunities. Each association is legally recognized by the city and maintains citizen-written bylaws, which fix things like the NAs boundaries and its election procedures. Today, ONAs annual budget exceeds $3 million.
In the late 1970s, with neighborhood activity on the rise, the PPB and a local nonprofit applied to the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) for funding to support several crime prevention specialists. For a few years these specialists worked in community locations under the PPBs and the nonprofits direction, but when LEAA money dried up, they moved over to ONA; the city was pleased with the specialists work, and it picked up the costs of the program out of the general fund. Until recently, crime prevention specialists were assigned to the coalition offices, providing the NAs with assistance as they tried to deal with public safety concerns.
Collaboration between the neighborhoods and police grew as time wore on. In ONAs early years, residents often found police difficult to work with. Sharon McCormack, a crime prevention specialist who has been with the program from its outset, explains that it was typical for officers to think in traditional terms about what their role was, and [to tell citizens] that their hands were basically tied and there wasn't anything they could do to help solve the problem. But with prodding and experience, a number of officers eventually became close working partners with the community groups in their beats.
Police-community collaboration got a jump-start from an unlikely source, a 1986 city ordinance that dealt with convenience stores, and which can serve as an example of the sorts of collaboration that took place in the 1980s. The ordinance required new convenience stores that would be open more than 18 hours per day to meet with the community about security concerns, and to prepare a Good Neighbor plan outlining how they would deal with them. Neighborhood associations reportedly found the process very useful, and ONA eventually generalized it to create a framework for dealing with any neighborhood problem. For example, a Good Neighbor plan developed in response to a problem apartment complex might include a section in which the apartment manager described how she would improve lighting and physical security in her complex. Officer Thomas Peavey, who the PPB later assigned in committee with other officers to formalize its own problem-solving process, remarks that through these Good Neighbor plans, the coalitions were kind of doing their own problem solving. Their representatives outside the Police Bureau were out there doing their own partnerships with the community.
McCormack recalls an example that revolved around a local high school that had become a neighborhood concern: The perception was that there were a lot of kids from the school hanging out, speeding down neighborhood streets, hanging out at a local convenience store, and just plain skipping school. There were perceived increases in purchases of alcohol, and it seemed like there was drug dealing around, more litter, and loud noises. Alerted to the problem by the neighborhood association, McCormack and others in the coalition office called a meeting with the key stakeholders. The resulting Good Neighbor plan outlined responsibilities of several different actors: School officials spoke with the youth and organized a litter patrol, the store owner turned off his video games during school hours, neighbors were encouraged to start a neighborhood watch, and area business owners started a business watch and made some physical improvements to the area as well. Finally, the PPB worked with the city License Bureau to observe and document sales of alcohol to minors. When the identified some apparent violations, the store owner was warned and received training on how better to check IDs.
Though its point person was in ONA rather than the PPB, the examplelike many others PPB members report from this periodcontains many of the elements of the community policing philosophy that Portland would soon start pushing: Community members were able to raise the sorts of quality-of-life issues that did not fit easily into the 911 system, and they could even take part in the solution. And though todays well-developed problem-solving structure did not exist at the time, it was not just renegade officers who facilitated such efforts. One PPB member maintains that the administration always encouraged us to deal with the community.
To be sure, the Bureaus receptivity to community input was uneven across the patrol force and management ranks. Moreover, there were organizational barriers to community problem-solving, like the fact that PPB districts did not match the neighborhood association boundariesa mismatch that some believe made police-community partnerships more difficult and less common than they might have been. Nevertheless, the PPB was far from completely insular, even before community policing took hold as its official philosophy.
Being open to community collaboration at the beat level did not, however, mean that the PPB had a particularly positive relationship with the public at large. In other words, the department as a whole was not so outward-looking as its constituent parts: It did not proactively try to bolster its public image in any significant way, and it did not open up high-level bureau policymaking to community influence.10
Consider, for example, the PPBs press relations.
Jane Braaten, a civilian trained in journalism who acted as a Bureau spokesperson
during its transition to community policing, maintains that during the 1980s,
the primary role for the public information officer was to get information
out about crimes that just happened. More proactive press relations were
simply not in the PPBs operating style. The idea that you put out
a press release to talk about police participation in a community fair or the
donation of bikes [to the department] was really, at that time, kind of a foreign
idea here, Braaten explains.
Absent any systematic attempt to put forth a positive public image, much of the image of the PPB that did get out was quite negativeparticularly in Portlands African-American community. Three stories in particular stuck out in public discourse about the Bureau: An incident in the early 1980s in which two officers threw dead opossums on the sidewalk next to a black-owned restaurant (some in the PPB reportedly considered the restaurant to be a focus for criminal activity); the death of a black security guard at the hands of an officer using the carotid-artery chokehold; and a number of T-shirts printed by PPB officers that read Dont Choke em, Smoke em, in response to the departments ban on the chokehold after the security guard incident. Richard Brown, co-chair of Portland Black United Front, explains that partly as a result of these incidents, the police were always viewed . . . like an occupying force in black communities. . . . Any time there was an issue in our community, we were on one side, and they were on the other side. Eventually, the us versus them tone of police-community relations, coupled with skyrocketing crime rates in many Portland neighborhoods (Portland had one of the highest crime rates in the nation among cities its size), led the black community to register a serious no-confidence vote in city police, as several black leaders openly called for the National Guard to come in to some Portland neighborhoods to help restore order.
Thus despite extensive neighborhood-level collaboration with some communities (extensive, that is, relative to other police departments of this era), the PPBs overall public image was not particularly good during much of this period. Some in the Bureau blame police-community tensions on the political climate of Portland, traditionally a very liberal city. But whatever the explanation, public opinion was apparently not fully behind the Police Bureau during the period leading up to its transition.
The Task Environment
The examples of beat-level collaboration with the community suggest that some PPB officers looked beyond the criminal justice system for tools in the fight against crime. Officers worked with community institutions like schools, local businesses, and government agencies (the License Bureau, which regulates liquor licenses, has partnered with the PPB and community residents at least since the late 1970s). But many Bureau members think that interagency collaboration was less common before the transition than it is today, and they point to significant gaps in interagency collaboration during the 1980s. Most notably, the PPB apparently did not work with the Bureau of Buildings to apply pressure against drug houses the way it does today.
The PPB was, however, fairly firmly entrenched in the local criminal justice system. Portland police have had a good reputation in the court system; one DA maintains that the department has enjoyed tremendous creditability in the court system. And the department has worked with neighboring law enforcement agencies often (which is not to say that these relationships have lacked any conflict; for example, the Multnomah County Sheriffs Office has sometimes looked on the PPB as an encroacher, as the city has gradually annexed county territory). Finally, it has also been very prominent in police professional associations for some time, hosting events like the 1988 International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference.
In sum, where outside input and collaboration is concerned, the PPB of the 1980s was an interesting hybrid of the past and the present. On the one hand, the Bureau clearly had the aspirations to autonomy that most professional police departments held: It tried to isolate itself from city politics, made little effort to shape public opinion, and did not engage outside agencies as much as it does today. But on the other hand, outside inputparticularly from community groupsalready played an important role in the PPB, even if that role would expand under community policing.
Patrol officers during this period operated out of one- and two-person cars assigned to [X] districts in Portlands 3 precincts. Most officers were assigned to a single district for the duration of their assignmentsofficers could, and still can, bid for new assignments every [X] months, but some were assigned to utility cars that filled in for district cars on their days off. District maps were drawn to equalize travel time and call loads, and did not usually match the boundaries of Portlands officially-recognized neighborhood associations.
During the 1980s, patrol officers in Portland spent the bulk of their productive time answering 911 calls. In 1985, for example, call response took up 47% of the patrol forces time, well above the IACP recommendation of 30-35%; subtracting time for administrative tasks, meals, and routine patrol, officers were left with only 13% of their time for self-initiated activity.11 The problem was not necessarily one of philosophy, for Portlands workload was enormous: A PPB study of similar departments at the time found that Portland received 67% more calls per officer than average.12 Interviewed in 1987, then-Lieutenant David Williams explained that in 1985, when the police workload became a political issue, officers were spending so much time responding to priority one and priority two calls that they were less and less able to do other things. All we were doing was running from call to call; officers and citizens both had expectations that we were going to provide full service, time for follow-up, but we couldnt, and everybody was very frustrated.13 Some maintain that the workload issue forestalled Mayor Clarks intention to make the PPB more community-oriented. In 1987 his aide on police matters, Chuck Duffy, explained: To the mayors way of thinking, community-oriented policing means walking beats and things like that, less relying on direct, heavy-handed law enforcement and more getting at root causes. We recognized the fact that you cant do it well unless you have an adequate level of police officers, because youve got to do the community outreach stuff with police on top of your base of patrol officers, and were having trouble with our base.14
Nevertheless, many PPB patrol officers apparently did some problem-solving work well before the transition to community policing. Interviewed in 1987, Captain Alan Orr expressed a sentiment that many officers repeat today:
The history of the bureau, at least in the 15 or sixteen years Ive been on, is that we do more than just handle calls. We probably go back to what the modern police literature calls problem-oriented policing; we started that 15 years ago. When I was a patrol officer, if I had a problem in my district and it looked like it was being perpetrated by a certain group of people in a certain place at a certain time, I could go to my sergeant and say, Hey, Id like to go in plain clothes for a week and see if I can track these people down. And I could write up a mission statement and do that. Over the years that has been an accepted practice in Portland, the Bureau has always encouraged proactive, as opposed to reactive, patrol.15
Orr went on to explain that around 1984, workload began to interfere with problem-solving, but the reaction of Bureau personnel reflected how abnormal that situation was: It was a great concern, not only to the lieutenants, but also to the officers on the street, that they were not doing any kind of proactive work Some officers deny that they participated in or heard about much problem-solving during the 1980s, so it appears that the practice was spread unevenly through the Bureau (particularly during low-morale periods like the turbulent mid-80s). But ONAs Sharon McCormack, offering the perspective of an outside observer with considerable knowledge of the police, maintains that the PPB was doing a fair amount of problem-solving work at this time.
In any case, the PPBs operational systems recognized problem-solving explicitly: As Orr explains above, officers could write up mission statements to propose directed operations aimed at specific community problems. Problems could be nominated (whether for missions or some less formal initiative) in at least three different ways: 1) Individual citizens, neighborhood associations, or ONAs coalition offices might contact a precinct directly; 2) officers might identify problems from their own observations; and 3) sergeants might request crime analyses for their areas of responsibility, allowing them to identify problem spots that they could then direct officers to follow-up on (Portland had relatively sophisticated crime analysis capabilities early on).
There were apparently two limits to problem-solving in this era that differentiate it somewhat from what goes on in the PPB today. First, the Bureau seems to have focused mostly on relatively small-scale problemsproblems like difficult street corners or drug houses. Second, most problem-solving apparently relied primarily on the patrol officers themselves. Common responses to problem areas included stepped-up patrol, low-level undercover operations by patrol officers, and effecting a zero-tolerance posture in problem areas. Patrol could, of course, turn large problems over to central units like the Drugs and Vice Division, but that seems to have been the exception rather than the rule. One department member who believes that problem-solving was quite common during the period explains that the major difference from today was that in those days everything fell onto the patrol officer. He had fewer resources. He was expected to deal with the problem within his district. Nevertheless, as described above, police did work creatively with some outside agencies in solving problems (notably the License Bureau and the county DAs office); and when neighborhood associations brought ONAs crime prevention specialists into problem-solving initiatives, the specialists often brought up outside resources that might be of use.
Investigations and Patrol
Investigations in the PPB were centralized during the 1980s, with large units focusing on property crimes and person crimes, and several smaller specialized units (which came and went over time) that focused on specific classes of crime. (Indeed, the Bureau put more of its resources into special units over time, sometimes to the consternation of patrol officers and elected officials.) Some units were geographically-based, though they were still centralized in the sense that they worked out of the downtown office rather than the precincts: A burglary detective, for example, would work and be supervised out of the central office, but she would be assigned cases that came out of a particular precinct. Most investigations started from patrol reports: One detective from the period maintains that because of his units enormous workload, you wouldn't do any proactive stuff at all. And only a small proportion of his reports got any attention at all: It was so overwhelming, you would just take the cream of the crop, only the named suspects, something that was definitely there and you would work that case and then you'd submit it to the DA's office. At the same time, the detective units were well-respected and, as mentioned earlier, had a good relationship with prosecutors and the courts.
Coordination between investigations and patrol was minimal; again, most investigations began from written reports rather than, say, direct concerns expressed at the precinct level. For example, precinct officers engaged in their own low-level investigations would sometimes find out after-the-fact that a centralized investigation was focusing on the same problem they were, so that their own efforts were wasted. Indeed, investigative units apparently did not even coordinate very closely with each other; for example, DVD often recovered stolen property in drug busts but rarely made an effort to clear cases in property crimes. Each of the PPBs operational units had a very clear functional responsibility, and bureaucratic boundaries were rarely crossed.
3. Administrative Systems
The terms reactive and proactive are generally reserved for operational rather than administrative systems in police departments. But in the PPB, that language usefully describes a number of important administrative changes.
Reactive Administration: Strategic Planning and Personnel
With a few exceptions, the PPB of this period had little capacity to do self-initiated strategic planning. Major reorganizationslike the one in 1985 that reshuffled staff, instituted a telephone reporting system, and eliminated unitstended to be responses to immediate fiscal crises rather than attempts to realize well-explicit long-term goals.
That, at least, is the perspective from the unit with official responsibility for planning during the period. According to Assistant Chief David Williams, who took over Planning and Research when he was promoted to Lieutenant in 1985, the unit simply was not expected to do everything its name implied: A very small group of people, good people, he remembers.
But basically they were just information gatherers and report responders. In other words, an inquiry would come in: Do you have this kind of thing or that kind of thing. We want to know this about your department. So we would respond to letters basically. Or if the chief needed staffing information for a council presentation, we would put that together. . . . There was no planning at all.
Williams himself, the units new head, candidly admits that he himself knew nothing about it [planning] when he came in.
Indeed, no one in the department had expertise in this area, and Deputy Chief Tom Potter apparently recognized as much when he was making assignments in 1985. At that time Potter installed Williams in Planning and Research with an explicit mandate to develop (in Williamss words) a bona fide planning function. Williams took the mandate seriously, as he explains:
I began to read everything I could get my hands on about strategic planning. What is it? What does it mean? What kind of capabilities do we have to have in order to be strategic planners? Youve got to be information gatherers, for sure. But you also have to be able to distill what you gather down to meaningful information. And then basically you want to become an arm of the chiefs office . . . [So] if the chief wants to put together a plan for the organization, [you can help figure out] If were at point A now, and we want to be at point B later, then how do we get there? What are the steps to get there? . . . Who needs to be involved? [That] was a process piece that we didnt have in place. We didnt know how to organize ourselves to make that happen.
By the time he left the unit in 1987, Williams had accomplished much of what he set out to do. The Bureau still did not develop organization-wide strategic plans, the way it would in the near future. But Planning and Research did undertake planning in more limited areasthings like patrol deployment, staffing needs, and other situational assessments of specific Bureau weaknesses and opportunities. Most important, Williams had developed a departmental capacity that would be centrally important to community policing: Planning and Research would shortly become the Community Policing Unit, and Williams himself, a newly-trained expert in strategic planning, would take a leading role in preparing the departments Transition Plan.
Reactive Personnel Systems
Though planning in the PPB did start to move beyond its reactive posture in the years before community policing, other administrative systems would not really begin to change until the transition was officially underway. Personnel systemsparticularly hiringare perhaps the clearest case.
Minority hiring provides one example. The PPB has long expressed its intention to bring more minority recruits into the police force; the Bureaus 1971 annual report maintained that a top priority for 1972 is the recruitment of minority citizens to the Portland Police Bureau.16 But despite years of expressing that goal, the Bureau had made little progress by 1990, just before the personnel changes associated with community policing got underway. For example, only 21 of the PPBs 762 sworn officers were black, and only one of them had risen as far as Lieutenant. The problem was apparently that the department did not have a very aggressive recruitment campaign: Although it was committed to hiring qualified minorities who applied, it simply did not develop a very proactive system for getting minority candidates to apply in the first place.
Bruce Prunk, who oversaw personnel changes during
the transition to community policing, summarizes the old systems well by saying
that they tended to screen out rather than select in
new recruits. Statistics support this intuition: For example, since the Bureau
instituted its new recruitment initiatives and minimum qualifications, the failure
rate on its psychological tests has dropped from 37% to 19%. Relatively speaking,
the old hiring systems left applications to chance: Recruitment efforts
and basic qualifications were both minimal; most of the Bureaus work
in the hiring process came after the initial application was made, in
performing background checks and examinations on the somewhat random pool of
potential hires that it wound up with.
Many other PPB administrative systems left just as little room to be proactive. Internal affairs responded to and investigated complaints, lacking, for example, an early warning system that would flag officers with multiple unsustained reports. Departmental initiative in recruit training was limited by state mandate; since the mid 1970s, Oregon has required all state police agencies to use a statewide training academy rather than developing their own (though Portland has had its own, shorter supplementary academy for new hires). And as in most police departments, PPB management lacked (and still lacks) control over patrol assignmentspatrol officers can bid into essentially any assignment they choose every [X] years. In all of these systems, management initiative and even discretion was minimal, making it difficult to consciously alter the Bureau in any determined way. Many administrative matters in the PPB essentially ran themselves.
Proactive Administration: Information in the PPB
None of this is to say that Portland was a backwards police departmentquite the contrary. In fact, the Bureaus use of technology and information systems were cutting-edge through much of the 1980s and even earlier.
As early as the 1960s, the PPB maintained extensive information about things like how officers used their time and how many calls of various types came in. The Bureau did not really have any way to use this information at first (for example, it did not regularly reconsider patrol deployment based on the information it was collecting), 17 but it was apparently decades ahead of many other departments even in collecting it systematically. By the 1980s, the PPB had innovative information systems for use not only inside the Bureau, but also by the community.
Steve Beedle, a civilian crime analyst with the
Bureau since the early 1980s, agrees that Portland has always been advanced
in this area. For example, the PPB could generate geographically-based crime
information, and the patrol force used this capability to identify and analyze
neighborhood problems. Beedle and others in the Crime Prevention and Patrol
Support unit took this idea to its next logical step by experimenting with mapping
technology in 1987. The impetus was a need to carry out the evaluation piece
of Portlands CPTED program, funded by BJA as a demonstration program.
BJA suggested that Beedle look into a young desktop mapping company (which would
later become MapInfo), and from there the PPB was able to develop a rudimentary
Information systems also had a neighborhood-oriented twist. Beedle himself quickly became an information resource for the neighborhood associations, and he explains that the entire unit worked very closely with the neighborhood coalition offices. The unit had a few prepared reports that it sent out to the coalition offices and others, but it mainly emphasized special requests from the public, which it tried to funnel through the coalition offices in order to improve coordination and screen out misdirected requests (for example, the PPB would receive requests for traffic information that were better handled by Traffic Management). In the process, the unit developed close working relationships with the neighborhoods.
It is particularly difficult after the fact to reconstruct managerial practicethings like the ways in which managers actually used Bureau systems, how they tried to shape the ways in which operators used them, and where discretion was located and encouraged in the PPB. As a result, this section will be brief and impressionistic. Nevertheless, a few things about management during the period are clear.
Leadership in the PPB
The 1980s opened on the tail end of Bruce Bakers seven-year tenure as Portlands chief. Baker, the first outsider to head the PPB, had a clear vision of where he wanted the Bureau to goone that focused particularly on corruption, truthfulness, and modernization.18 But according to one Bureau member, Baker had tremendous resistance to the changes he tried to make; he left in 1981 after a vote of no confidence from the union. His successor, Ronald Still, also had a clear visionMoose writes that he tried to bring a law and order, spit and polish style to the PPB, but it was a vision that conflicted with that of Mayor Bud Clark, who won the 1984 Mayoral election. Thus began a pattern of leadership instability that plagued the Bureau throughout the decade. Indeed, Portland had six chiefs of police (two were interim) from the time Clark took office until 1987, when Richard Walker became chief and started the first slow but substantial steps towards community policing.
The result of this instability at the top was turbulence and lack of direction at almost every other level. Commander Mark Paresi, who spent a year during the mid-1980s as a Lieutenant at East Precinct, explains how this problem manifested at his level:
I mean, I had six Commanders, six Captains during my tenure as a lieutenant in at East Precinct . I went through captains like water. Each guy has a different perspective. And they'd be doing one thing, and six weeks laterI'm your new commander. Its very difficult, very difficult for continuity or to build anything. And we haven't had stability until the last couple of chiefs.
An audit of the PPB, conducted in 1989 by the Institute for Law and Justice, summarized the difficulty by referring to a chief du jour system of management that led to undermined command credibility.19 Even at the time the audit came out, two years into Walkers tenure, ILJ concluded that the department lacked direction.
Supervision and Discretion
Portland has espoused a decentralized and participatory management style at least since Bruce Baker was Chief in the 1970s. But ambivalence about such ideas have apparently been just as constant.
On the one hand, Portlands precincts have for the most part enjoyed considerable autonomy in things like deployment, budgeting, and operational activities. The Bureau did flip-flop on a number of key issues during the 1980s. For example, for a short time the precincts lost their authority to allocate officers across shifts as they saw fit; and at one point the chiefs office eliminated input from precinct commanders when it made yearly decisions about personnel budgets (instead it relied on a computer model to allocate personnel resources across the Bureau).20 Nevertheless, precincts did enjoy quite a bit of operational freedom. For example, precinct captains could authorize undercover work by patrol officers, remove district officers from 911 responsibilities (usually by bringing in another officer on overtime to cover their calls), or temporarily reorganize shifts to facilitate problem-solving work. One Bureau member describes such flexible work as a common practice that was going on at that time.
On the other hand, many in the Bureau have a vague sense that decisionmaking in the PPB was more rigid and centralized than it is today. One maintains: It used to be that ideas came top down. All the planning and everything was done by the Lieutenants and Sergeants. Moreover, many other Bureau members believe that front-line supervision was more distant, less supportive, and more focused on stats in the pasttodays view of front-line supervisors as facilitators or even partners was, they argue, largely absent. Such memories are always subject to distortion, but outside observers at the time came to many of the same conclusions; for example, the1989 ILJ study concluded that Bureau management had long been too centralized.21 Thus although the sort of decentralized, participatory management that community policing values apparently had some foundation in the PPB of the 1980s, it was not fully ingrained in the way Portland managers worked.
II. THE TRANSITION
More than in many police departments, community policing in Portland was a group effort, so its trajectory cannot be traced solely in terms of the career of any one individual. There were certainly key figuresnotably Tom Potter, who took over the PPB as chief in 1990, and who was a guiding force for community policing for at least three years before that time. Nevertheless, the PPB, which had a history of leadership instability, consciously tried to detach community policing from particular people. As a result, this section will review Portlands transition conceptually, exploring three parallel tracks: The evolution of the idea of community policing; the development of support for it (both inside and outside the Bureau); and its operational implementation.
1. Evolution of a Vision
Much of the groundwork for community policing had clearly been laid years before Portland officially adopted that style of operating. But even as a matter of explicit philosophy, community policings roots were planted no later than 1984even if it would take at least six years from that point before even a partly coherent vision would evolve.
Bud Clarks 1984 mayoral campaign set the tone for police reform in the coming years. Clark, a political novice who owned a well-known Portland tavern, campaigned on a populist platform that called for a more open style of government, and one of its major planks focused on the PPB. Elected against all expectations, Clark quickly announced his intention to open up the Bureau, in part by appointing a more community oriented chief.22
But this intention ran aground of at least two
problems. The first was budgetary: Clark took office just as Portlands
economy was failing, and he immediately had to make cuts in the Bureau. Those
cutsparticularly firing 16 patrol officersput Clark and his new
Chief, Penny Harrington, at odds with the Bureau in general, and with its union
in particular. Lingering budgetary problems also laid behind the rocky relationship
Clark had with his next non-interim chief, James Davis.
But the second problem was probably more substantial: Neither Clark nor the chiefs he appointed had a very well-developed vision of what a community-oriented Police Bureau might mean. Harringtons case is illustrative. While Clark purportedly appointed her because of her demonstrated commitment to local communities, she clearly held on to elements of the traditional mindset. For example, when new UCR data showed Portlands crime rates rising during a year when crime was falling nationally, Harrington blamed the problem on lack of jail space in Multnomah County, and she was unable to articulate an alternative approach to the citys growing problem with crime.23 Moreover, Clark himself apparently did not have a very concrete idea of what he wanted from the department, as he called for little other than openness and a community-oriented posture.24
Crises in the Traditional Model
But despite such difficulties, the impulse for something like community policing did not fade away. Many inside the Bureau point to a number of outside forces that kept pressure on them to find a new model of policing.
Most important, evidence mounted that the current model was failing. For one, tension with the communityparticularly African-Americansundoubtedly weighed heavily on the PPB. But this tension had simmered for a long time without producing a fundamental reorientation of Bureau philosophy. What did change as the 1980s wore on was crime, as Assistant Chief David Williams (who played a major role in the early stages of the transition) explains:
What finally put it over the edge was when the L.A.-style street gangs began to emerge in our community. And their economy was pretty much fueled by crack cocaine. So we had a proliferation of street gangs, an overnight proliferation of the use of crack cocaine. And then also these dope houses. Things that we hadn't in our city experienced a great deal of until then. Then pretty soon gang drive-bys and those kinds of things were happeningall kinds of things that were beginning to be seen in our community, to the point where people began to think What's going on? We're losing our community.
At the same time, consensus was growing that the criminal justice system simply could not handle the surging crime problem. Jail space in Multnomah County had long been a problem, and convicts were regularly being released early to make room for more serious offenders. In many arrests where the suspect already had fingerprints and photographs on file, he would not be taken into custody at all, but given a citation with a court date and released. Moose writes that community policing offered hope to this situation because it included the expectation that repeat arrests could be reduced by solving problems by other means.25 This was not simply an abstract pressure on the department to find alternative dispositions: The shortage of space affected officers directly, as their radios would (and still do) regularly call out that Multnomah County Jail had gone one-to-one, meaning that no more prisoners could be taken until one was discharged. Officers might then have to guard anyone they arrested for hours before the jail could take the suspect, so they faced a very tangible pressure to turn to solutions other than arrest.
In any case, Williams reports on the seeming consensus that emerged:
Enough of those events were taking place that the finger pointing eventually stopped and people said We've got to come together to work this through. How are we going to deal with this? How can we as a community begin to address these serious public safety issues? And a lot of us in the Bureau here began to realize, There has to be a better way of doing business. Our relationship with the community needs to be better than this. And the old standard way of doing policing doesn't seem to be working. In other words, we weren't making the difference we had hoped to be making in our community with public safety in mind. We were basically chasing the same problems around all over the community.
Against this background, the PPBs leadership changed again in April of 1987, when Clark fired Chief Davis over a dispute rooted in the budget crisis. The immediate reason was Daviss threat to file suit to gain access to the source materials behind a performance audit of the Bureau, which had criticized its management and argued that its budget requests were excessive. Clark had called a breakfast meeting with Davis to order him to back off on the suit, and when Davis balked, the Mayor fired him on the spot. Within three hours he had sworn in Richard Walker, an ex-PPB Deputy Chief who had retired from the Bureau when Clark took office in 1985, and who at the time was working as the executive assistant to City Commissioner Dick Bogle.
The First Steps
Compared with earlier appointments, the three-hour search for Walker must have seemed haphazardeven considering that Clark had recently become well-acquainted with Walker in recent months as the two had worked together in city government. Nevertheless, it was under Walker that community policing finally gained its first real momentum in Portland. To be sure, the new Chief did not take his position with a fully-developed vision of where the department would go;26 and his tenure saw more intellectual than tangible progress towards community policing. But according to Moose, Walker was the first of Clarks many appointments fully to realize that he was expected to use his knowledge of the Bureau and his law enforcement experience to implement the will of the mayor, which was to open City Hall and other bureaucracies (including the police) to the regular citizens of Portland.27 In any case, Walker soon appointed Captain Tom Potter to head the new Community Policing Division, with a mandate to investigate the idea and determine how Portland could proceed with it.
Testing Out the Strategy
Before Potter had made much headway on this task, a frustrated group of residents in Portlands Overlook Neighborhood provided what would become an important push towards community policing. Long plagued by prostitution problems on nearby North Interstate Avenue, Overlook residents held a public forum late in 1987 to air their grievances and demand action from the city. Alan Orr, then commander of North Precinct (which included the Overlook Neighborhood), remembers the event vividly:
I came into an auditorium of five hundred people. They were all angry at me because I wouldn't eliminate, I couldn't eliminate the prostitution problem on Interstate Avenue. Well, what I told these five hundred angry people [was] that I was glad that they were angry if their anger turned into something constructive.
Potter soon took over North Precinct, and he continued to work with the community to forge a strategy for dealing with Overlooks problems.
The initiative ultimately included a wide range of partners: Residents began the citys first official citizen foot patrol in the area, and although officers initially resisted the idea, ONA worked closely with the Bureau to design training for the patrol; eventually, most officers accepted and even welcomed it. Motel owners agreed to new restrictions on room occupancy designed to exclude prostitution from the rooms. The city passed an ordinance that enabled police to tow johns cars, and this new tool was widely publicized in local media. Finally, on the police side, the PPB added a foot patrol to the area and agreed to conduct monthly inspections of motels to help ensure that they complied with their end of the agreement. The effort proceeded slowly at first, but within twelve months the area saw a dramatic reduction in prostitution, and the Overlook group was very satisfied with the police response. Equally important, the PPB had its first high-profile success story in community problem-solvinga story that would figure prominently in future attempts to spread community policing throughout the Bureau.
The Philosophy of Community Policing
While the Interstate project was pushing the department operationally, two other events were pushing key players philosophically. The first was a trip to Japan by Potter, sponsored by the Eisenhower Foundation, which was part of a world tour focusing on policing practices. Potter was tipped-off to the opportunity by Ed Blackburn, then ONAs Crime Prevention Coordinator, who had connections with Eisenhower. Through the tour, the Community Policing Division head not only got to observe the Japanese policing system directly (at the time it was clearly a world model for the emerging idea of community policing); he also got to learn from many of his fellow travelers who were at the forefront of community policing in this country, including Houston police chief Lee Brown.
Second, Mayor Clark got his own education in community policing by chance, at a 1988 Mayors Conference that included several presentations on community policing. Houstons Brown was among the presenters, so Clark got essentially the same perspective on community policing that Potter himself had just been exposed to. (Indeed, it is not surprising that Portland got so much help from Brown: Before becoming chief in Houston, Brown had tried to implement team policing as the Sheriff in Multnomah County, which encompasses Portland. In fact, some of Browns old officers had since transferred over to the PPB.) In any case, the conference marked a turning point for Clark, who finally learned a vocabulary for communicating his long-held conviction that the PPB should be more community-oriented.28
A Plan for the Plan
Immediately after the conference, in December of 1988, Clark wrote a memo to the Bureau directing it to prepare a strategic management plan that focused on community policing. He and Walker quickly appointed a small group that would take on the task, with Potter at the head. The initial group included a number of PPB members, including ranks from officer to Lieutenant (one, Dave Williams, was actually a Captain who had just been demoted as part of a recent round of budget cuts), as well as two Portland State Professors who were to help formulate the plan. Clark and Walker also created an advisory committee called the Community Policing Work Group, which included members of the PPB, ONA, and the Mayors Office, as well as a number of community leaders. This committee met weekly, acting as a sounding board for the ideas Potters team was developing.
Potters mandate was purposefully vagueindeed, developing a plan of action was precisely what his team was charged with doing. But the group did start off with one clear objective, which Williams explains as consider[ing] another way of doing policing, something that was more in partnership with the community as a whole, more open to the community, more community-driven. So the group embarked on an investigation that sought to refine that goal and to develop a blueprint for getting therein other words, a strategic plan that would guide the Bureau through its transition to community policing.
From the outset, the group decided that this investigation could not simply be a means to an end, but that it needed to embody the values it sought to realize. As Williams explains, the process of developing the plan itself was a strategy to begin to align the community and the department towards that endtowards becoming a community policing department. And the same logic applied inside the organization: The process sometimes can be equally or maybe even more valuable than the outcome. . . . Because the process helps shape the attitudes and behaviors you're looking for. So you've got to live it as you go, you can't just live it at the end. In part the intention seems to have been to build support by offering voicethe intention to move towards community policing was not negotiable, and the Bureau did want people to buy in to that. But Potter and his team also wanted to use community and Bureau members to help them clarify precisely where the PPB was going. As Williams explains, One of the things we want[ed] to define from this participation is what community policing should look like for Portland. . . . Every city should define it for itself, because it may not always be the same for every community.
Consequently, the group itself would not make the substantive decisions; instead it would set up the framework within which the various communities could do so. In Williamss words, the group developed a plan for the plan that set out some basic parameters:
We agreed that the community had to help us put this together. And we wanted the police department to be involved. And then we wanted the key members of our community to be involved as well. So we asked, Who are those people? Who are the stakeholders in our community? So we set about actually defining what those groups were. And then once we did that, then we asked, How do we invite them in? Then we needed to develop a framework by which participation was possible.
Focusing particularly on these issuesidentifying the groups and individuals who should participate, getting their cooperation, and developing a framework for participation, the team produced a critical path chart that would guide the actual plans development. Team members did not want to venture far from formal matters like these, since they felt strongly that the PPBs vision needed to emerge from a broadly participatory process that involved the entire Portland community.
But they did not leave every substantive decision up in the air. For example, from the start the group decided that community policing would be implemented Bureau-widethe PPB would not start out with an experimental special unit as some other departments had. As Williams explains it, this commitment stemmed from two sources: First, a firm beliefbolstered by initial researchthat community policing was the only way to go; and second, a belief that special units were impermanent because they were tied to personalities:
Special projects come and go. Why? Because the organization is not to the point where the project is fully integrated and/or institutionalized within the culture of the organization. So the projects go away. There is nothing that sustains them because there is nothing in the infrastructure that makes them continue. They go away. They are sometimes personality-driven or chief-driven or maybe Mayor-driven. Those people go, the program goes. So we needed to get away from that mold.
In any case, with a minimal set of commitments like this one, and a plan for the plan that would guide the participatory process, Portland finally embarked on community policing in earnest.
The Transition Plan
Dave Williamss experience in the mid-1980s as head of Planning and Research had made him the Bureaus expert in planning, and Potter seized on his skills to oversee the transition plan. Williams describes the charge as a daunting one: It was a tough [role]. There weren't enough hours in the day, it was tremendously stressful, he remembers. But with help from the rest of his team, particularly Portland States Jim Marshall, Williams was ultimately able to carry it out.
The critical path chart that the community policing group had developed laid out the information the Bureau needed to gather, and Williams used this plan for the plan to structure the enormous task before him. Most significantly, Williams divided the information-gathering load among 12 different committees, each charged with soliciting opinion and developing recommendations on a different substantive area.29 Williams formed the committees by selecting one or two people as committee chairs and then directing them to select the remaining participants (within certain constraints). As he remembers it, his main goal was to pick chairs with strong work ethics:
I didn't careand I had the chief's blessingI didn't care whether they were command people, officers, sergeants, whatever their walk was. But they were people who could get the job done. . . . [And] they didn't necessarily have to have a lot of expertise in this area, because none of us [did]. We were developing things as we went. So basically we were looking for people who were willing and who were good leaders and could get it done, even though they might not know exactly what it was they would end up with; they were risk takers. That was important.
Indeed, the transition plan itself would break new ground in the Bureau, rethinking fundamental issues like the role each rank should play and how to deal with the media. Williams believed that this initiative did not require existing expertise and authorityquite the contrary: It required dedicated workers who were prepared to take risks as the Bureau entered uncharted territory.
The committee heads, in turn, got to fill the remaining positions within a simple framework; Williams explains that he allowed wide discretion in these choices, as long as there were some community people involved, some Bureau people involved, both sworn and non-sworn, to represent those points of view. Other than that they could have whoever they want. Getting participants from the community participants proved to be a particularly difficult task, according to Williams: Quite honestly we didnt get a huge amount of participation, but we always invited people, he remembers. We had the invitations there and they had the opportunity to participate. [But] you couldnt get, out of 500,000 people, a proper sampling all of the time. It just wasnt going to happen. But you did the best you could with what you have. The problem did not appear to be access, for although police themselves could not always identify the best community representatives, ONA helped the Bureau extensively; it not only put its own staff on many PPB transition committees, but its coalition offices also helped to identify community members who might participate in the Bureaus planning process.
In any case, in the end the PPB assembled 12 committees of 5 to 35 people each, with participants from a number of different city agencies, community groups and institutions, and businesses (including the media). Membership was diverse in terms of the attitudes people held, as well; for example, Williams notes that many members actively opposed community policing at the outset: In a lot of cases there were a mix of people in those committeespeople who weren't sure about community policing, or they liked it, or in some cases outright resisted it.
Williams pushed each committee to produce its products quickly: I gave them very short time lines, in some cases only 30 days, which means that they had to meet frequently to get this product out; otherwise they would be strung out forever. And it was an impossible demand, but they did it. Other than this, he took a hands-off approach: Basically I would introduce the first meeting with them, introduce the two chairs. This is what were asking you to do. Take questions and all of that to try to alleviate some of the fears, concerns, or whatever, and then get out of the way and just let them do their job. And they did it. In the end, the final products were all he had hoped for, despite initial grumbling that he had given them an impossible task: By the time they finished their product they were proud of it, it was excellent, he remembers. And a lot of those people that were naysayers were now coming on board. And so they did a wonderful job and they managed to come through on all of this stuff. The conversion of the naysayers was particularly satisfying for Williams, who had always valued the planning exercise as much for its process as for its product.
When the committee reports were completed, Williams and his team distilled them into a draft version of the plan, circulated hundreds of copies throughout the community for comments, and reworked the draft into the final document. The resulting Community Policing Transition Plan announced a program of action for the next five years, organized around five major goals that collectively defined community policing for Portland: Partnership, empowerment, problem-solving, accountability, and service orientation (see attachment 1). Overall, the vision of policing that emerged in Portland was centrally concerned with community partnerships. For example, the new mission statement announced in the plan gave a central place to community-police collaboration: The mission of the Portland Police Bureau is to work with all citizens to preserve life, maintain human rights, protect property, and promote individual responsibility and community commitment.30 In any case, the goals (later redefined as values) would eventually become a touchstone of policing in Portland. For example, the Bureaus early demonstration projects were chosen and evaluated based on their contribution to all five values, and a poster version of its mission statement displays the values and their definitions throughout the Bureau. Most important, the values would serve as the guiding vision for Portlands top managers as they built support for community policing and developed new organizational innovations.
There were, of course, details as well as grand statements. With the five goals as the main structure, the plan announced 27 objectives and some 300 specific activities (called strategies) for the Bureau to undertake over the next five years. Williams and his team had prioritized the various activities to make sure that the pieces they saw as crucial got attention; he explains:
Our goal was to establish a foundation, so it was important to do first things first. So the recruiting, the training, the hiring, the role clarifications, developing the leadership and the training pieces for our field training officersall of those kinds of things became foundational pieces so we could perpetuate things. And then of course our budget process had to be in synch with our planning process so that the budget reflected our goals. So we had to develop performance indicators, those kinds of things.
In any case, the plan established accountability for the strategies by assigning each one to a lead division in the Bureau (though it recognized that many divisions might play a role in them); each of these divisions reported monthly to the Chief and the Transition Committee on their progress. Moreover, the Bureau as a whole would provide quarterly implementation updates to city council, which officially adopted the plan by a unanimous resolution on January 31, 1990.
Assessment and Refinement of the Vision
While the Transition Plan provided the first and perhaps most significant statement of where the PPB was headed, the Bureau remained open to refining it (some PPB members refer to it as a living document). So starting in 1994, the PPB would revisit its strategic plan every two years, essentially repeating the original process and producing a completely new document. Commander Mark Paresi, who oversaw the first such effort, explains that by revisiting the plan, the Bureau hoped to hone its vision:
The impetus [for the first strategic plan] was to refine the original transition plan, to clean it up, and allow us to become more focused on those goals which were critical to the organization and the community . . . And each succeeding document has [made] it even more refined. We dropped out stuff that maybe we shouldn't have been doing.
Thus, the strategic vision that would guide the PPB was opened up to continuous evolution.
The Role of Research
Subsequent strategic planning sessions followed the same model as the transition plan, relying heavily on participatory dialogue to develop the vision that would guide the department. But starting with the 94-96 plan, the Bureau also tried to expand the role more formalized analyses would play in the process. Research and assessment had played a role in the initial transition plan, to be sure, as committees gathered voluminous information about their respective tasks, and the so-called menu committee searched nationally for evidence of how community policing could be implemented and what impacts different strategies seemed to have. But over time, the Bureau clearly became more self-conscious about trying to evaluate its own ideas, and using those evaluations in its mid-course reviews of its overall strategies. Speaking specifically of the use of Bureau-wide performance indicators, Williams explains the evolution as follows: The first year or two, it wasnt as important as it was later because we were just getting started. After the third or fourth year, [we started asking], How are we doing? We needed to figure out if we were on the money here or we were missing it by a country mile. In the event, the Bureau approached evaluation in several ways, including its closely-watched demonstration projects, a growing number of program evaluations (such as an outside evaluation of its partnership agreements), and several surveys and focus groups that focused on community members, PPB employees, and the staff of other city agencies.31
In the opinion of many Bureau members, some of these techniques appeared more valuable than others. For example, the Bureau undertook an extensive evaluation of its Central Eastside demonstration project, intending to identify good models of community problem-solving that could be replicated throughout the city. But one Bureau member explains that the results, though positive, were not completely convincing:
I think the evaluation did show [that] overall that they had made improvements. . . . What is probably a little difficult to say is which specific efforts were the most [important] . . . . Because the thing is, rarely are we doing the only effort in any area. So if we say [it was] purely our efforts that cause this decrease, increase, or whatever we are looking for, thats not accurate. It could have been a community organizing effort that had a part of that. It could have been the parole and probation part that had a part in that.
Given such ambiguities in hard research, together with the sometimes prohibitive cost of evaluating small programs, evaluation apparently did not play a dominant role in the planning process. What did emerge from project evaluations like these was a new set of community desires that the Bureau had not previously taken much note of. In Central Eastside, for example, businesses and residents raised concerns about the placement of project-related social services, whose impacts on local neighborhoods they felt had not been considered sufficiently.
Indeed, more than the traditional objective evaluations, Portland apparently relied heavily on the many stakeholder surveys it undertooksurveys that went after subjective perceptions and desires directly. The Bureau became a sophisticated consumer of such studies, interpreting their own results in comparison with comparable studies in other agencies (not just the police), and developing longitudinal databases that allowed them to scan for trends over time. The surveys did not substitute for the dialogue that fundamentally underlay the transition plan. Jane Braaten, a supervisor in Planning and Support who had responsibility for key sections of the 96-98 plan, explains: It gives us another pulse on the community to go out and do a formal survey to at least check, Are we seeing a dramatic increase in this or are we not? Or [is it] actually the same vocal group? Which doesnt mean we diminish the vocal group. It just gives us that check and balance on information that we are getting. So the surveys, the evaluations, the vocal groups, and everything else fed into the overarching dialogue that was at the core of each planning process.
Two Trials of Succession
Because of its recent history, Portland faced a felt need not just to develop a vision for community policing, but also to institutionalize it in a way that it would withstand the Bureaus inevitable changes of the guard. Indeed, leadership instability had become such an endemic problem in Portland that after only three years as chief, Richard Walker was seen as a force of stability and continuity in the Bureau. As a result, when rumors began to surface in the fall of 1990 that he might retire, there was concern that the progress of recent yearshowever slowmight be lost. Not much had yet been accomplished operationally in community policing, and the task of building support had a ways to go as well. But important aspects of the community policing vision had begun to crystallize, and its proponents did not want to lose that.
Any fears that community policing might be a casualty of Walkers retirement proved unfounded, though, when Clark named Tom Potter as the new chief. As much as anyone in the Bureau, Potter was community policing in Portland: He had headed up the community policing division since its inception, overseen the transition plan with the help of Dave Williams, and participated in the earliest official community problem-solving exercise in the Overlook Neighborhood. An articulate speaker, Potter had become well-known and -liked in the community: He had not only the desire to build bridges to the rest of the city, the fundamental goal behind the transition plan; he also had the ability to do so. Indeed, Clark explained his choice of Potter in terms his commitment to working with citizens to solve crime problems.32 And in any case, Clark and the City Council (through resolutions it had passed regarding community policing, including the transition plan) explicitly directed Potter to move police in a direction where they join with Portlanders in solving the causes of crime, instead of just responding to calls.33 Ultimately, the years under Potter would prove enormously productive in implementing the vision expressed in the transition plan, and building support for that vision inside and outside the Bureauas described in detail below.
But less than three years later, in the Spring of 1993, the city would go through even more turmoil and uncertainty when Potter announced his plans to retire. In addition to Potters unsurpassable association with community policing, two factors made this particular succession uncertain: First, a new mayor, Vera Katz, had recently replaced Clark, so it was not self-evident that the old mayors vision for the police would survive; and second, Katz had decided that the search would be a national one. The prospect of an outsider running the Bureau struck some as potentially ruinous. As Patrick Donaldson, executive director of the citys Citizens Crime Commission, explained, I can't believe that anyone outside the Portland Police Bureau is more knowledgeable about the vision that has been evolving over the last five years than the command staff and rank and file of the Portland Police Bureau.34 Even in the case of internal candidates, Donaldson wondered: Who will take over that vision, and will they want to own it or modify it? [While some in the Bureau are dedicated to Potter's philosophy], others tend to puppet it, sort of adapting to the party line."35
The major competition appeared to be between
David Williams, the close associate of Potter who had overseen the transition
plan, and Charles Moose, who as commander of North Precinct had given community
policing some operational lifeand in the process developed some of the
crucial administrative and operational innovations that would help implement
community policing. The process of choosing between these two insiders, as well
as the many other candidates who applied, involved extensive input from community
representatives, elected officials, and different groups within the PPB. In
the end, Katz chose Moose for the job, citing his commitment to working with
the community and the operational imagination he had shown in North precinct.
In Mooses own eyes, the transition was notable for its smoothness:
I was very fortunate because we were already in the transition to community policingTom had done an excellent job of laying that foundation. So I think the clearest thing for me [to do] was just to assure everybody that we were going to continue with community policing. That we weren't changing directions. You know, it's not very often when you look around the country that you actually get to be the police chief in a community where the only thing that's happened is that the very popular chief retired. Generally you get a new police chief because they kicked the other guy out. Something went wrong. There was some kind of crisis. Something's broken, and you want to fix it. In my case, there wasn't anything broken. I was part of the management team, and we had our direction. We had full city council support for the philosophy of community policing. The mayor was committed to community policing. So I was able to just try to continue to keep the ship moving in the same direction. I didn't have to change directions; I didn't have to go through any of those difficult pieces.
So by the time Potter retired, the PPB had a substantial cadre of high-level managers who were all committed to substantially the same vision, and who intended to carry forward the changes outlined in the Bureaus strategic plans. Perhaps this vision could not have survived the hyperactive pace of instability that Portland had seen in the mid-1980s. But transition to a new chief did not mean that community policing would fall apart or change course, at least on the level of ideas.
2. Building Support for the Vision
One of the main ways that Portland tried to enforce this continuity was by building strong constituencies for community policing inside and outside the PPB. This strategy took many forms that this section will review; but most dramatically, it involved an intensive public dialogue that culminated in a resolution by city council, setting out in broad terms the path the PPB would take. Assistant Chief Bruce Prunk, who oversaw personnel in the Bureau before taking on his current position, explains the reasoning behind this approach:
You can change chiefs, as long as you tell the organization that no matter who's in charge or where you go to work, this is what we're going to be doing. So you don't get that this is a passing fad philosophy where people can say, I'll wait this out. I'll wait this sergeant out. I'll wait this lieutenant out. I'll wait this captain out. When they leave this all will go away. . . . . This was a partnership between city council and usus being police management and the community. We're saying, This was passed by ordinance, this is the policy of the city, this is the policy of the organization. It doesn't matter who's in charge, this is how we're going to do business.
Williams reinforces the special importance of outside support in this strategy, explaining: It was important to get a buy-off from all of the politicians and all of the community leaders, including the citizens. Because . . . as mayors and council members come and go, police chiefs come and go, youve got something that has been supported by council resolution that says This is what we think is important for this city.
Thus from the outset, Portlands upper management saw the development of outside support as an integral part of implementing community policing. This support would not simply provide the police increased legitimacy in taking on the new tasks they set for themselves. More specifically, it would provide an unflappable force that would enforce the vision when internal forces challenged it. It is hard to believe that the Bureaus recent history of rapid leadership turnover was not in the transition teams mind as they agreed on this approach. To be sure, there were other important reasons to solicit outside support: Since community policing in Portland would rely heavily on collaboration with neighborhood groups (Portland did not intend to follow an insular problem-solving model), community buy-in was clearly crucial. And because many felt the Bureau needed more officers to do community policing, City Council would literally have to buy in. But the first goal was to develop a constituency for change.
In any case, Potter took the need to build support for community policing seriously even before he became Chief. ONAs Sharon McCormack, who often spoke with Potter about the issue, recalls his sense that one of the riddles was going to be, How do we convince City Council that this is an important shift to make? And how do we convince the Police Bureau that it makes sense to do? And how do we educate citizens that this might be a shift that really will have benefits for everybody? The following three sections focus on several ways that Potter and the rest of the PPB tried to build support for community policing externally, turning afterwards to a discussion of how the Bureau tried to build support for community policing internally.
Speaking to the Neighborhoods and City Hall
McCormack herself soon became involved in the answer to these questions, as Potter turned to ONA for help.36 She and her office helped the Bureau make links and build support with the outside world in many ways, like identifying community members to participate in the strategic plan; participating in a community policing work group that Potters initial planning team used as a sounding board; and most fundamentally, helping to operationalize community policing by acting as a partner in Portlands many neighborhoods. But the most concrete and public way in which ONA advanced Potters early program for bringing the community on board was by organizing a series of public forums that solicited public input about community policing. These forums were held in the spring of 1989 and were attended by elected officials, Bureau personnel, and hundreds of community members.
Potter brought the idea for the forums to ONA
late in 1988, shortly after Clark sent out the memo that directed the PPB develop
a community policing strategic plan. McCormack remembers that Potter knew
that it would make sense to introduce this idea [i.e., community policing]
through neighborhood groups and begin to garner some . . . support; moreover,
support from the community could then result in mobilization of citizens
to testify at City Council. Thus Potter envisioned a strategy of building
support in Portlands neighborhoods, hoping that this grassroots strategy
would ultimately influence city government.
To carry out the plan, Potter turned to the citys well-established window to the neighborhoods, the Office of Neighborhood Associations. McCormack remembers
He met with all of the crime prevention people and said, Wed like to do a series of forums around the city; how can we make this work? Can you come up with practical examples? Can you do outreach . . . Do you have some good examples of officers that you think really exemplify what were trying to get at? . . . And so what we wanted to look at was, could we show that by going Bureau-wide with the concept of community policing, what we would really be doing is just a better job of some of the good work that has already been going on? So we were charged with coming up with some illustrations that show how this problem-solving approach works. And it was also a way to honor citizens whod gotten involved, and honor officers who had done a good creative job, and in a sort of calculated way.
According to McCormack, ONA bought into the project readily. Public safety was a central issue in many Portland neighborhoods, and many of their neighborhood associations had already successfully worked with the police (as described above). Thus with help from the nonprofit Portland Organizing Project, ONA set out to run five community meetings that would showcase successful police-community partnerships, invite discussion about community policing, and thus disseminate the PPBs new direction throughout the city.
According to McCormack, the forums were very well-attended by neighborhood residents, who were joined by high-level Bureau personnel, the Mayor, and a number of city councilors. Each event was chaired by a neighborhood resident, rather than a PPB representative, and this person steered the discussion towards two overarching issues: General neighborhood concerns about public safety, and the emerging idea of community policing. Many who attended knew nothing about community policing and framed their complaints in quite traditional termsraising concerns like the speed of 911 responses and the insufficient number of officers who patrolled their streets. As McCormack remembers it, some of the citizens weren't necessarily coming because they already bought community policing. They were just [in favor of] anything that was going to help make things more efficient, give them more access, and put more officers on the street.
But in the end, the forums were apparently successful in starting a new type of dialogue about how the police and the community could work together. McCormack maintains that many neighborhood participants
were certainly saying very strongly, We want to figure out how to have a different relationship with the Police. We see police if a crime is happening in our neighborhood. But before things get out of hand, is there a way we can connect with our district officers? Can we find out more about whats going on in our community; maybe then we can do a better job on our end of organizing and trying to prevent some kinds of things? . . . For some of the ethnic communitiesparticularly Northeast, which has the highest concentration of the African-American population, [the concerns were] Wed like to relate in a different way to officers. We dont want to just have the officers come off as occupiers. Were tired of people saying, Well, you shouldnt live in that neighborhood.
The Bureau surveyed those who participated and found that the great majority were satisfied with the forums. In any case, community interest in the Bureaus plans was sufficiently piqued to mobilize the political support Potter had wanted. The first demonstration of that fact came in the summer of 1989, when Council considered a resolution to adopt a definition of community policing (developed in part from the forums themselves), and to support the Bureaus strategic planning process. Neighborhood residents reportedly called and sent letters to their council representatives in great numbers; McCormack recalls that
there was all this lobbying that went on where residents said, We think this is the direction [to go]. . . . .Some of them came up and said, We know this can work, and we know it because we were involved in [it] . . . . So people came up and got to say, Heres how we think it'll work, and kind of promote what they had done too.
McCormack maintains that overall, Council was impressed with the level of support, and it unanimously voted in favor of the proposed resolution, which put city government on record as supporting community policing and the Bureaus ongoing planning process.37 Within six months, Council would approve two more community policing resolutions (one adopting expected outcomes of the effort, and another officially recognizing the completed transition plan) and approve Operation Jumpstartan effort to hire 60 new officers and 40 replacement officers in order to give community policing the push many Bureau members felt it needed.
Opening up the Bureau
Potter, however, would not rest on these achievements, and when he became Chief of Police in November of 1990, the Bureaus efforts to build bridges with the community took off. Many of these efforts can be described in terms of the evolution of the Community Policing Division (later renamed Planning and Support), which for the sake of convenience can be viewed through the eyes of manager Jane Braaten.
The PPB hired Braaten in the summer of 1990, a few months before Potter took office as Chief, and she took her mandate from the transition plan, which described a program of public education and internal education about community policing. In particular, Braaten and others in the Community Policing Division wanted to bring the community policing message to four audiences: The Bureau itself, the general public, elected officials, and the media. Those were the areas that through triage you figure out, Where are you hurting the most and where do you need to make the most progress to be the most effective? In any case, with a background in journalism and work experience in city government, she brought with her special knowledge about two of these four main audiences.
Braaten took on several of these efforts over the course of her (continuing) tenure in the Bureau. Internally, she oversaw the development of a departmental newsletter that would diffuse the idea of community policing within the PPB, and she also helped design awards ceremonies and external publicity in a way that would encourage people inside the Bureau about it. On the media front, she arranged regular meetings with assignment editors in order to share concerns and build better relationships; she worked with Potter to redefine the role of the Bureaus Public Information Officer; and she took emerging community policing stories directly to the media in press releases and bulletins. Finally, Braaten sought to increase the Bureaus visibility in City Council by issuing regular, timely reports about the progress of community policing, in addition to the usual annual reports.
The PPB also took the community policing case to audiences outside of the city itself, notably by organizing regional and national conferences about major issues in policing. In part, this work in the professional community simply helped build stronger ties to national figures from who the Bureau could (and did) learn. But it also represented a conscious attempt to institutionalize community policing nationally; as Braaten explains:
I think the national conferences were pursued in part because Portland was viewed as a leader in community policing. Especially by 1995, we were starting to hear some things out of Houston and some things out of New York that community policing was in trouble. It hasnt caused a terrible reduction in crime and so we dont know if it works. I think that Portland, from the Chiefs office, felt that we had an obligation to the rest of the field to contribute to that and say, We really think it does work. We wanted to do what we could to keep the momentum going. We felt that there were a lot of people in Portland who really put themselves out and put their reputations on the line saying, We think we can make this work, and we wanted to somehow bolster that spirit.
Portlands growing national stature was a source of pride in the Bureau, but it also created a sense of obligation and urgency, as well as an opportunity. If there were signs of trouble in national circles, Portland had reason to be worried: It might be hard to sustain a local effort if the national image of community policing waned. But because of its visibility, the Bureau did not have to stand by idly.
The Chiefs Forum
On the local front, one Bureau effort where Braaten took a leading role is a particularly important example of the way the Bureau sought to gain credibility with the general public: The development of a policy-level advisory committee called the Chiefs Forum, consisting of representatives from both the Bureau and the community at large. As Braaten explains it, the germ of the idea emerged during Chief Walkers tenure, but the Forum did not take shape until the month that Potter took office: The name Chiefs Forum had cropped up somewhere in the summer of 1990, she remembers. But the way that it was envisioned at that time was more of a very informal kind of a kitchen cabinet. I will call in some sort of business leaders in the community and meet with them periodically and those will be my advisors. Braaten was skeptical of that model, and she raised her concerns with Potter, who she worked under at the time in the Community Policing Division: He and I talked and I said, I think that if they want to do that they should call it a different name because when you use the word Forum it conveys a different [meaning].
The conversation apparently stuck in Potters mind, for as soon he was sworn in as Chief (on November 19, 1990), he immediately directed Braaten to get the Chiefs Forum running:
So he called me in . . . and said, I want something called the Chief's Forum. I have an idea of some of the players that I think should be involved in that. And I want their first meeting by December because we just had a property tax limitation measure passed . . . and we just can't wait. We just have to have them up and running so that they can begin advising us on this budget process. . . . So Thanksgiving weekendI remember it well, I was here all weekend, working on a concept paper for the Chief's Forum.
In writing the concept paper, Braaten tried to address a number of concerns that were surfacing about the idea at the time. On the police side, some Bureau members expressed concerns that the Forum would be a sort of citizen review board that micromanaged the Bureau and took an exclusively critical posture. On the community side, concerns were raised that the Forum might just be a rubber stamp for the Chiefs agenda; and some worried that the Forum would usurp the work of existing committees. Finally, Braaten and Potter themselves worried about the caliber of participation: How could they ensure that members would take the assignment seriously and have clout in the communities they represented?
The core of the idea, which would hopefully address all of these concerns, was to have a Forum made up of diverse interestsincluding both the community and the policein which each group got to select its own membership. Braaten explains that the Chief put police on the Forum in order to meet their concerns about creating an entirely critical and uninformed civilian review board; police, she argues, are able to raise issues like officer safety that citizens might not think of. To deal with the opposite concern, that the Forum would be a rubber stamp for police projects, the PPB gave up control over the Forums membership. Specifically, Braatens paper outlined nine areas of interest that would be represented (including groups like neighborhoods, business, and community), and it designated a particular body or individual with the power to appoint the representatives for each area. (For example, community representatives were appointed by City Council members, and neighborhood representatives were appointed by ONAs officially-recognized coalition offices.) Since the Bureau had no control over who served on the Forum, it could not dictate what position the Forum would take on any particular issue. Moreover, the Forum itself could vote to expand its membership to include new groups (for example, it did this for the elderly when that community raised concerns that it was not represented.)
Finally, Braaten tried to ensure a committed and powerful membership by setting a tone with the initial appointments. The Citizens Crime Commission, which appointed the two business representatives, helped accomplish this goal when it announced its first appointment as Fred Stickel, publisher of the Oregonian and a well-known figure in Portlands public life. Braaten made sure other appointment-makers knew about the CCCs choice:
It was sort of like signing a baseball team . . . . When I talked to people [I] name-dropped. And I said, Well, for instance these are the appointments that have already been made, as a cue to people that thats what we are looking for. And it seemed to work. I mean, no one wants to be embarrassed in making an appointment either. And they really did a nice job of making good selections.
That is not to say that the Forum was stacked with pro-police partisans. For example, Mayor Clarks initial appointment was Richard Brown, co-chair of the Black United Front, and someone who had been a strong critic of the police. Though today Brown works closely with the PPB on many fronts, he candidly admits to having a different perspective in years pastindeed, to being one of the many people in Portland who didnt think the police do anything right:
And one of the challenges for me early on was to find out what they were doing right. And when we started the police chief's forum, . . . I used to tell a story, my community policing story, after every meeting. That forced mesomeone who had been jaundiced about what police were doingto find positive things that the police were doing.
In any case, it was hard to argue that the Forum was stacked with police partisans with members like Brown, who argued on behalf of communities that felt particularly slighted by them.
In its early years the 22-member Forum had a full agenda, since the transition forced the Bureau to rethink many long-standing policies. Beginning with the budget issues for which Potter had rushed its formation, the Forum considered things like hiring, use of force, and the Bureaus drug enforcement policy. Though Forum input was non-binding, it was reportedly taken very seriously. For example, when the PPB considered revising its drug policy, Potter consulted with the Forum, and its members insisted that the policy explicitly state that police should pay attention to neighborhood-level dealing; while the Drug unit had traditionally emphasized mid- to high-level dealers, most Forum members felt that low-level dealing had the most direct impact on quality-of-life. With respect to hiring, Assistant Chief Bruce Prunk maintains that he took Forum input very seriously: Were not going to make [a] policy decision, obviously, if theres a lot of public resistance to it, he explains. In any case, a year into its operation, outside observers felt that the forum did have clout; For example, City Councilor Mike Lindberg maintained, Its clear thats where the action is, thats where the power is. [Its recommendations] carry a lot of weight.38
Apart from the benefit of a fresh perspective, the PPB has hoped to gain at least two things from the Forum. The first was a set of new links between the Bureau and Portlands many communities. Braaten gives the example of a precinct Commander who faced a problem involving the sexual minorities community: The nice thing is that the Commander could look at the Chief's Forum roster [which includes a representative from the sexual minorities community] and say, I need to start getting involved with this community so we can do some problem solving . . . And I know who to contact now. It is not just an unknown community to me. Thus the Forum provided direct ties to community leaders, who could in turn help the PPB gain access to many different social circles in the city.
But the core way the PPB has hoped to benefit from the Forum is the generation of legitimacy: By incorporating independent community input into its highest-level policy decisions, and simply by opening up decisionmaking to public eyes, the Bureau has tried to improve its image in the public eye. Braaten maintains:
The first year of the Chief's Forum I bet we didn't go one or two meetings where people might have kind of had a real spirited debate, and then there would be this pause. And then they'd look down at the Chief and say, I know we are having this debate, and we may not all agree, but it is just incredible that we are doing this in the Chief's office and that we are actually talking about those issues. Now I think it is taken for granted I think in a way. But in those initial two or three years, I think people just saw that as such a privilege to be able to sit down with the Chief of Police every few weeks and talk about some things that were of concern. So I think there is that period of, I can finally ask my question about hiring more people of color in the police agency. Or, I can finally ask my question of why did they do these high risk stops, or what causes them or do they do that more for people of color than for whites.
Braaten recalls one example when the Forum was able to defuse a potentially explosive pair of events:
It was over a weekend, and there were two separate instances. [In one,] two White people beat up one Black person. And then two Black people beat up one White person. The charges against the perpetrators were different, and there was a community perception, especially within the African-American community, that this was another example [of racism] and it was outrageous. I think one of the real community education pieces that was done in the Forum was that following Monday. While we couldn't talk about that investigation, . . . we were able to have this discussion about, Theoretically, let me tell you what it takes to bring charges of assault, and what it takes to bring charges of attempted murder, so that I can explain to you why those charges might be different. What that did was it sort of took the lid off this boiling pot, and [one Forum member] said Oh, okay, that is information that I didn't have before. There may be more information than I know right now. Let me kind of simmer down and find out more. It was a very dramatic moment in that group.
Reporters from the Oregonian and other local media outlets attend most Forum meetings (which are open to the public), so such discussions get relayed throughout Portland. In any case, by providing a regular communication link between the Bureau and various segments of the Portland community, the PPB could respond to crises like this one immediately, hopefully putting a potentially damaging incident in perspective.
In any case, throughout this initial period, Tom Potter in particularboth before and after he became Chiefpushed many efforts to build outside support for community policing. The effort was so substantial that by the time he retired, even Potters critics admitted that he had gained wide community supportsomething that was a tremendous accomplishment.39 The effort paid off not just in terms of the abstract goals of building legitimacy and networks, and institutionalizing the commitment to change. More concretely, it helped get crucial support from the outside groups that controlled needed resources. Budgetary resources like Operation Jumpstart were part of the story. But equally important were the innumerable miscellaneous actions that outside groups took to support PPB effortsthings like the multiple city ordinances that supported problem-solving work (such as the Drug Free Zones described below); the concrete, project-level cooperation that police would need from the Bureau of Buildings and other agency partners; and the public support elected officials and community leaders provided the Bureau when its community policing efforts came under attack. In all of these ways, the effort to build outside support showed tangible results.
But building support for community policing inside
the organization proved to be a challenge for several reasons. There were the
usual sources of resistance: The cultural objection from officers that I
wasnt hired to be a social worker; the complaints that there wasnt
enough time and there werent enough resources; and the argument that the
new style might be good for the community, but that it didnt help the
officers themselves. But in Portland, community policing also faced resistance
because it became tied up with the issue of gay rightsa cause that some
PPB officers rejected. In particular, Chief Potter marched in a gay rights parade
and appeared on a gay cable access show early on in his tenure as chief, in
order to show support for the sexual minorities community. These stands did
not hurt the Chiefs popularity much in the community at large (except
with the conservative Oregon Citizens Alliance), and many inside the Bureau
supported Potter as well. But there was a sizable group in the PPB who resented
his stands on gay rights. Consequently, Potters own ability to build support
for community policing was partially undermined. So although he personally tried
to build support for community policing inside the Bureaufor example,
he would deliver the message directly to the rank-and-file by attending precinct
roll calls, he lacked credibility with part of his audience for reasons
unrelated to the message.
Whatever the underlying causes, resistance was severe in the early days of community policing. Officer Thomas Peavey encountered it first hand as he helped administer the Bureaus first round of employee surveys, while assigned to the PPB Planning and Support Division:
It was a very difficult time. And it was very difficult to be up here because I was looked upon as being kind of the velvet glove guy. . . . No longer was I a traditional police officer. I was this community person who was not really meeting their needs. Their needs were to have resource at the enforcement level so they can do the enforcement that was needed to clean up the problems. That's how they saw they needed to do business. And as much as you'd say that you got things done with these other agencies, there would be a resistance to believe that, and a resistance to do that. Because their needs in their eyes were more immediate. They wanted more manpower on the street, more uniforms, and more ability to bust the bad guy. . . . It was like you go out for an interview, you talk to the street officers in the interview, and theypeople that you've known for years. And it was like, Now you're of another political persuasion. They didn't want anything to do with you. They'd talk to you and be cordial with you because they knew you as a person. But you almost were removed professionally from them in conversation. It was a difficult time for us. There was really a lot of stress at the time we were interviewing.
Bureau management and others committed to community policing faced an unmistakable need to build support for the idea among the rank-and-file. They confronted a clear question: What will it take to get street officers to buy in to the vision that had been expressed in the transition plan?
Two dominant strategies quickly emerged: Publicizing examples of success, and alignment through involvementessentially forcing resistant officers to get involved in hands-on projects and hopefully converting them to the cause in the process. There were other tactics for building internal support, to be sure: Potters rounds to roll call, the departments new internal newsletter, participatory planning, training, and so on. But as high-level managers and others talk about how the PPB spread the new vision through its ranks, these two strategies stand out prominently.
Asked how the Community Policing Support unit he worked in tried to build internal commitment to the plans ideas, Assistant Chief Williams echoes the sentiments of many in the Bureau: You have to pay tremendous attention for those things that are in that direction [i.e., community policing]. And then reinforce them by complimenting, nurturing, those kinds of things. And then celebrate those things, publicize them with commendations. Anything in any way you can. Managers throughout the Bureau, particularly precinct commanders, used this strategy on a daily basis, providing informal encouragement to officers and advertising their successes to others who were less committed to the new style of policing. But Williams explains that the Bureau also seized on the existing commendation system, which brought the Bureau and the community together every six months to recognize individual officers. In the past this system had mostly been used to recognize the acts of valor and heroism that most police departments emphasize (and which Portland still does recognize). But under Potter, these events were increasingly used to recognize and advertise good community policing work. Many in the Bureau report making a particular effort to identify officers that [were] well-respected by other officers, as one explained the logic. We wanted to get people with some credibility.
For example, early on in the community policing program, the PPB commended one officer on a number of occasions, and he quickly became a local celebrity; ONAs Sharon McCormack explains how the associated publicity for community policing helped spread it through the department:
Thered just been some TV coverage on this guy who was an officer from another precinct. And it was like the citizens were saying, Well this officer is so wonderful and he can do everything. And this veteran cop was saying, Well maybe if I could just get that guy over here then I could get some help from my neighborhood. And we said Well, we think hes kind of a hot dog too, but heres some of the stuff he did. Well, this officer comes back about two weeks later and he goes, Im getting real sick of how to deal with the drug house on my block. Tell me this stuff again; how did these guys do this? And who did they work with? So we hooked him up with the Bureau of Buildings person and a couple of other folks, and it got resolved like within a week. And he came back in, and he says, This stuff isnt so bad. (laughter) And then he started telling other officers.
In effect, the award ceremonies and less formal commendations sought to drill in one basic message: Community policing gets results, and officers whose work you respect are doing it. Repeated exposure, top managers felt, would diffuse that message throughout the ranks and gradually wear down resistance.
All of this was reinforced by changing personnel policies that governed more tangible rewardsparticularly promotions. In this realm, Chief Potter, and Chief Moose after him, were able to dip into some unused flexibility in Oregons civil service system. All candidates for promotion in the PPB take a civil service test, and the Bureau had traditionally chosen the top scorer for the job. But though no Chief in recent memory had ever done it, the rules actually allowed him or her to promote any of the top five scorers (a provision known as the Rule of Five). Moose explains that he and Potter seized on this flexibility to help get buy-in to community policing: Tom [Potter] went to great pains, and I've gone to great pains, [to make it clear] that if you're not doing community policing, if you're not committed to the philosophy, if you haven't demonstrated it in your day to day work, then your name could come up number one on a promotion list, and it doesn't matter. If number five has been living the goals and the philosophy of the organization, then we're promoting number five. There was great resistance to this idea in the early years, and many doubted that the administration would actually follow it through. But PPB management stuck to its policy, beginning with Moose himself, who did not top the civil service test but who Potter promoted anyhow, on the grounds that Moose had shown extraordinary commitment to and innovation in community policing. Moose explains that you take a lot of hits for going against tradition that way, but that it was crucial during the transition because it helped to convince officers that the Bureau was serious about community policing.
Alignment through Involvement
Officer Peaveys own explanation for the hostility he faced was that these officers had not had personal experience with community policing. Theyre unwilling to buy the results unless they have the individual experience, he explains. So if you're going to have success in community policing, everybody has to become involved in a problem solving process of some type or another. Peavey himself had that experience when he participated in Operation Target under then-Commander Moose at North Precinct.
When they assigned us to Operation Target, and we started seeing these things being resolved through the use of networking, through the Building Bureau, and the visa letters, and whatever, we actually saw properties being dressed up. We saw tenants being evicted that were the problems. We saw traditional locations evaporate as far as drug problems. And all of the sudden things started to change. And so this was cool. And that the guys that were working that unit thought Hey this is really neat. We're really having an impact, and we started to work harder. The guys in the Target unit were probably the hardest working police officers I've ever seen in my life. They'd come to work, and they were just consistently throughout the day trying to resolve these problems day after day after day after day. Put extra hours in. Some of the time your extra hours weren't compensated, but you didn't care. I mean, you didn't care. You just wanted to get these things done. You were making a difference finally. So that was satisfactory. It was a real satisfactory time period in my tenure here. I felt like I was able to use my police training, my head. Like a lot of people in this Bureau, I graduated from college, and I had never felt while I was with this agency that I had total use of everything that I had gone to school for. Because I could think. I could think on my own.
The strategy of alignment through involvement was an attempt to give every PPB officer the experience that Peavey had had, and that had solidified his own commitment to community policing. As Assistant Chief Williams explains it: We found the best way to try to co-opt people who were resistors or maybe who were ambivalent about it was to get them involved in community policing activities. Let them see for themselves. In his eyes, the strategy worked: We found in almost every case that once they were involved in it they began to support it because they saw the merit of it.
3. Implementing the Vision
As the Bureaus vision was evolving, and support for community policing was developing, the PPB turned increasingly to the concrete organizational reforms that would bring the ideas to life. Beginning around 1990, the Bureau began altering or restructuring many of its operational and administrative systems, trying to ensure that they would support the front-line work that it now expected. Far too many organizational changes took place during this period to review fully here: The Bureau decentralized certain investigations, redistricted its patrol areas, reshuffled the overall organizational chart, reformed internal affairs, and many, many other concrete reforms. Indeed, community-policing related organizational reforms are still emerging in Portland today, even though the process has gone on for at least seven years.
Nevertheless, though each of these stories is somewhat unique, a few general issues cut across them. One way to categorize the great number of reforms is by the source of the ideas, namely, whether they were planned or unplanned. Doing so highlights the crucial role the Bureaus Transition Plan played in its transformation, but also the need that emerged to go beyond that document where necessaryto retain the flexibility and decentralized decisionmaking that Portland has always felt was important to community policing.
Implementing the Transition Plan: Personnel Systems in the PPB
The transition plan laid out an enormous volume of work for Bureau managers in order to restructure the PPB. As Assistant Chief Williams remembers it:
[When] we began, I think there were over 300 discreet activities that we had to accomplish to get through that five year plan. So the work was unbelievable. Because you're doing it as youre also providing your day to day service. . . . Were not like General Motors where you can shut down the assembly line and retool, and five or six months later provide a new whatever. Youve got to retool, retrain, rehire, provide a new service; impact the culture while youre continuing to do the day-to-day work. So your workload becomes almost exponentially increased.
Part of his job as Deputy Chief in charge of Operations (a position he held during the early years of the transition) was to keep people to task: What I told the managers here, our commanders, is, Change stuff comes first. You filter your day-to-day work through that. He did this in the context of frequent meetings with precinct commanders and other commanders of operational divisions (like traffic), where they worked together and with community representatives to devise strategies to implement the plan. There was a lot of working together, Williams explains, because there was a lot of teaching and coaching going on during that period of time.
But one cluster of examples can serve to illustrate the many activities the plan set in motion: Administrative reform of the Bureaus personnel systems, especially those focused on recruitment, training, and hiring. That story provides some key insights into PPB reforms, particularly three central problems that the implementers faced: How to turn the general issues raised in the plan into concrete actions; how to reconcile the sometimes conflicting goals that drove the reforms; and how to get cooperation from the many people and agencies who shared some of the authority to make needed changes. This latter challenge cropped up repeatedly, as PPB command staff could rarely make changes unilaterallythus the most difficult, and in many ways the most crucial part of these reforms, was coping with the outside groups that had interests in and power over these internal choices.
Operationalizing the Plan
The Transition Plan spelled out several personnel reforms fairly explicitly. For example, one strategy directed the Services branch to work with the Personnel Bureau to establish job-related exam processes and establish predictive validity of entry and promotional exams, and then-Deputy Chief Alan Orr, who oversaw Services, did precisely that. But in most areas the transition plan only laid out a broad framework for personnel reforms, perhaps giving a few concrete examples. What it did do was focus top managers attention on general areas for reform (like recruitment and hiring) and stir up a sense of purpose and self-reflectiveness, which led them to rethink their responsibilities.
For example, as Orr revised hiring policies, he quickly ran across issues that the plan did not specifically address but which clearly mattered to the Bureaus changing mission as he interpreted it. According to him, many of the fundamental changes he oversaw in this area centered on a revision of the PPBs 20-year-old Job-Related Job Description (JRJD); and the impetus to revise that venerable document came only indirectly from the plan, when he looked into the Bureaus challenges in hiring minority and female officers (one of the plans strategies directed him to recruit, hire, and train personnel that are representative of community demographics and Community Policing philosophy). Orr explains: It came to my attention really when we were taking a look at the way minorities are failing the written. And the question that we have there of course is a question nationwide: Is [there] a racial bias as far as our testing process goes? That question, in turn, led him to ask a more fundamental one: What do we base our tests on?:
We base it on the JRJD. OK, let's go back to the JRJD. . . . . The job-related job description was last written in 1971; along with the Psych test, it was last reviewed in 1971. So I felt that, maybe I had a bit of a concern that we were testing for standards that apply to 1971's police officers as opposed to community policing police officers. So we went all the way down the basics, and that is the JRJD.
Previous deputy chiefs had not revised these documents for years, but Orr was pushed to do so by the sense of changing purpose that had begun to take hold in the Bureau: Asked directly why he revisited a document that others had left unchanged, Orr explains, It was just a view of, . . . What are we trying to do here? He felt strongly that his branch fed directly into the Bureaus coming changes: I felt that particularly in transition, he remembers, [that] the training and the personnel . . . were very important. . . . Because that's how you get I think the institutional changes. . . . There are officers that never change, but if we could select and bring them in and train them, then eventually we'll have an institutional change. With this overarching vision in mind, it made sense to think critically about all aspects of the PPBs hiring policy.
In the end, the JRJD revisions fed into several other personnel reforms that, taken together, did add up to a significant shift in hiring qualifications and practices. In all cases, Orr and his team tried to realize at least three distinct goals: First, the Bureau sought to hire high-quality recruits with the skills appropriate to community policing; for example, it placed a much stronger emphasis on communications skills than it had in the past. Second, the Bureau sought to hire recruits from diverse backgrounds, including racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities, as well as females; as Potter explained the reasoning to a newspaper reporter: We need officers who can communicate with all parts of our community.40 Third, the Bureau sought to hire recruits quickly, since several factors were driving it to hire a large number of new officers. One of these factors had to do with community policing: The transition planned had insisted that the Bureau needed more officers to do community policing well, and city council agreed to fund this goal through a program called Operation Jumpstart that would fund 100 new police officers. But two unrelated factors also laid behind the PPBs hiring push. First, retirements had begun to accelerate dramatically, as the wave of officers hired in the Vietnam War era was beginning to hit retirement age; and more recently, the large number of federally-funded officers Portland hired in the early 1970s began to retire as well. (Indeed, 40 of Jumpstarts 100 new officers were needed simply to keep pace with retirement.) Second, the city of Portland was growing rapidly due to annexation, and the Bureau needed to add officers to keep pace with that growth.
Fulfilling these three hiring goalsquality, diversity, and speedwas not easy. First of all, the goals sometimes conflicted, so that the Bureau needed to make some tough choices about which ones took priority. And second, the most effective strategies for realizing them required cooperation from outside parties that the PPB could not necessarily control. Both facts colored the way the Bureau proceeded.
Revising the Written Examination
One way the PPB sought to improve its ability identify quality recruits who had community policing skills was to revamp its written examination. In order to do so, it needed approval from the state Civil Service commission and from the citys Bureau of Personnel Services (BPS). Then-captain Bruce Prunk, who oversaw the process, recognized this from the outset, and he planned his strategy accordingly: Whatever you do, you do in partnership and not in competition with your partners in government and in the community, he explains. I think it's important that you not make it competitive, that it has to be a win/lose for somebody. We made this a win/win.
Prunk began by talking with people at BPS about
his intentions and getting their feedback and advice. Working particularly with
a staffperson named John Worcester, who in turn dealt with Civil Service, Prunk
raised the idea of bringing in an outside consultant not only to write the new
test, but also to validate it empirically. According to Prunk, BPS was intrigued,
particularly by the unusual idea to validate the exam scientifically. They
were excited about this new process, Prunk maintains. We opened
up the organization and made our people available for the research. Worcester
suggested a consultant named Ted Darany who had done similar work before, and
Prunk followed up on the suggestion, starting a collaboration that would last
several years. There were a number of stumbling blocks along the way, to be
sure: Prunk explains that the Bureau and BPS worked through logistical disagreements
about things like who would take responsibility for various tasks, who would
pay for different pieces, and how much the effort would cost. But as he maintains:
None of those should be deal breakers or show stoppers. I mean, that's
what folks like myself get paid to deal with. In the end, Darany produced
a completely new written examination that predicted success (both in training
and as an officer) better than the existing one,41
and the PPB adopted it with BPSs and Civil Services blessing.
A more intractable problem associated with developing the exam, and with careful hiring in general, was the way in which it conflicted with other goalsparticularly the goal to hire recruits quickly. The slow pace of hiring became something of a public issue in Portland, and it got raised repeatedly and insistently in the press and in the newly-created Chiefs Forum. Several factors contributed to the delays, such as Mayor Clarks decision to slow hiring down in the face of a proposed pension reform, and the huge pent-up demand for police jobs that had developed during years of budget straina demand that for the PPB translated into an unmanageable number of applications. But the Bureaus extensive, growing, and simply changing testing procedures slowed down hiring as well; for example, the city had to postpone testing new applicants at a crucial stage of Operation Jumpstart in order to pre-test the new written exam, which had just been completed.42 In the event, the city (the decision was as much BPSs as the PPBs) weathered the criticisms of sluggishness in order to ensure a quality test and quality recruits.
Many in Portland expected that stronger hiring qualifications would also conflict with the goal of hiring a diverse workforce. For example, early on in the transition, the Bureau began requiring that all new hires had to have a four-year college degree,43 and some believed that this requirement would de facto discriminate against precisely those groups that were underrepresented in the PPB. But according to Prunk, that has not been the case. A review of the PPBs efforts to diversify its workforce helps illuminate the reasons why.
The Bureau tried several different strategies to attract minority and female recruits. Early on, it simply tried to revise the way it used the written test to screen applicants: The PPB had traditionally rejected all applicants who scored below 80 on the exam, but under the new rules it would lower the threshold to 70 (which had always been the official passing score according to civil service rules) for women and minorities. Though Mayor Clark and others approved the change, the patrol officers union balked, sending a letter of protest to then-chief Walker and threatening to sue.44
Later efforts backed off from the screening approach and paid more attention to recruitment. At first these efforts were local and traditional: Advertisements in community newspapers, Potters appearance on a gay cable-access show to encourage applicants, and creation of a recruitment brochure. Prunk also worked on recruitment with various communities of interestparticularly with the formally-constituted racial and ethnic advisory councils, like the Hispanic Roundtable and the Asian Law Enforcement Council. Prunk gave many of these groups application packets (previously the packets were only available at the downtown Civil Service office), and generally used them as windows to Portlands different communities and as partners in outreach.
But the Bureau eventually concluded that to meet its goals for minority hiring, it would have to look outside Portland entirely. As Prunk remembers it, What we found was is that while if we advertised in the local papers, that got us some results, but really we needed to target those colleges that have a higher minority and female representation [in their] criminal justice programs. That meant making recruitment trips all over the nationparticularly to Black colleges in the South and to Southwestern colleges with large Latino populationsin which Prunk and the rest of his team actually administered Portlands civil service tests on site. The city also paid for community representatives to go on these trips so that they could help administer the oral exam, a commitment that Prunk saw as crucial:
That's taking the extra step, but I think if you're serious about doing it you've got to make that commitment to go out and do that and you've got to involve your partners. It would be easy to say, Well I'll go down to the University of North Carolina and I'll get somebody there from the local community to sit on the board or somebody from the school to sit on the board. [But] those people aren't from Portland, they don't represent our community, and they don't represent our community's interest. It would be easier and cheaper to do that but that's not part of your partnership with the community.
In any case, through these recruitment drives, the PPB went to great lengths to identify the sort of candidates it wanted: At one point, over half of all new hires to the PPB were from out-of state.45 But equally important, it was able to solve some of the problems that people expected hiring for diversity would create. First, by taking a proactive, outreach-based approach, it avoided the union complaints of reverse discrimination that earlier screening efforts had created. And second, by focusing on minority colleges, it answered the early concern that it could not increase minority hiring while simultaneously raising the educational bar.
One final example from personnel reforms suggests the limits to its authority that the PPB had to face. For most of its history, the PPB has maintained its own police academy and therefore had almost complete control over what its new recruits were taught. But in 1970, Oregon required all police agencies in the state to use a central training academy in Monmouth County. The motivation was financial: Portland employed almost half of all Oregon police officers, and without its participation, the state academy was not cost-effective. The city could still provide its own training on top of what the state required, and it did: After spending 9 weeks in the state academy, all Portland recruits attend a PPB-run advanced academy.
Nevertheless, the state requirement reverberated during the PPBs transition, as the Bureau sought to revamp its training. Orr explains that particularly because of the Bureaus rapid growth and turnover at the time, Portland had a window of opportunity:
We were expanding because of annexation so quickly, that during that three-year period [1990-1993?], we hired three hundred people. . . . One-third of our Bureau had less than two years on at one point. And so we saw we had an immense opportunity for more or less molding those individuals as they come on to be the police officers that we wanted them to be.
As a first step, Orr revamped the city-run advanced academy, and the Bureau updated its in-service training as well. But the state academy was more intractable. There had been efforts in the past to recapture Portlands right to train its own recruits, or at least to split the state academy up into regional centers that might be more friendly to local concerns. But those efforts had all collapsed, mostly because of financial issues: The state did not want to relinquish funds, since it had mandated the centralized system precisely to save money; and the city did not want to pick up the tab either. In any case, the memory of those past failures seemed to discourage Bureau management from trying to bypass the state system, even if it meant sacrificing a potential tool for molding new community policing officers.
Instead of trying for wholesale reform, Orr and Prunk approached the state trainers to talk about the changes Portland was going through, and to find out if the state training conflicted with their message. Though no glaring conflicts emerged, they did continue to work with the state academy to make changes, and over the years the two sides developed a good working relationship. The partnership was reportedly helped along as the two sides worked together extensively to develop Portlands Police Corps program (a part of the 1994 Federal Crime Bill), and by fortuitous changes in Monmouths personnel (an ex-PPB captain took a senior position in the academy in 1993[?], and Tom Potter recently became its interim director).
Nevertheless, Orr reports that the state system creates some inherent frustrations for Portland:
The problem that we have in the State is that because the State is so small, we're about fifty percent of their customers down there. But they cannot tailor-make their basic Academy for us. They basically have to deal with the agency from one person all the way up to us with a thousand sworn. So it's pretty generic. Generally what we found down there is their training did not conflict with what we were doing, [but] it may not be the sort of thing that we would want our people to do. Because, for example, particularly tactically we teach them a bit differently because we're not a rural agency
In the end, the PPB has been happy with the contributions training makes to community policing. Nevertheless, the area clearly highlights the limits to the Bureaus autonomy, and the implications that has for its ability to maintain complete control over its transition.
Indeed, the training story magnifies a central challenge for all aspects of personnel reform, and for the Bureaus transition in general: The power outside groups had over internal Bureau decisions. Like most public agencies, the PPB had to work within a framework of divided authority. Consequently, the most important skills its managers had to exercise were those of negotiation, compromise, and coalition-building. At the same time, they faced the usual challenges of implementation, like fleshing-out general mandates and reconciling conflicting purposes.
Even if the transition plan did not prescribe precisely the reforms that people like Prunk and Orr were making, it did direct their attention to the general areas of training, hiring, and recruitment. But many other PPB reforms emerged entirely outside of the transition plan framework. Portland valued the rational, controlled approach to organizational change that planning represented. But it also believed in leaving room for flexibility,46 and many of its central operational and even administrative innovationsthings like the Neighborhood Response Team, the Landlord Training Program, and the idea to redraw Bureau districts to match ONA boundariesemerged serendipitously. Indeed, the Bureau consciously tried to encourage these innovations, notably by sponsoring a series of demonstration projects (chosen with input from the community and from officers) that were intended to test out community policing strategies and generate new ideas that the precincts could use.47
This mode of innovation created both benefits and challenges. On the one hand, by being open to outside ideas, top management opened up the reform process to ideas and experience throughout the Bureau and even outside of it. The challenge consisted in figuring out how and when to provide high-level support for local innovations, and how to transport home-grown initiatives to the larger organization.
The Neighborhood Liaison Program
The Bureaus Neighborhood Liaison Officer (NLO) program can serve as one example of the many innovations that have bubbled up in the PPB. In essence, NLOs are designated patrol officers assigned to each of Portlands 95 officially-recognized neighborhood associations, with responsibility for attending their meetings and helping to coordinate a response to their concerns. Today the NLO program is Bureau-wide, but its origins were more modest.
The program originated in 1990 under then-Lieutenant Moose in North Precinct. Moose had been brought in to North with a mandate to work with area businesses and neighborhoods to help revitalize the precincts more troubled areas. Early on in his new assignment, Moose sat down with Sharon McCormack, then the crime prevention coordinator for ONAs Northeast district office, and asked her for ideas. Moose posed a simple question to McCormack; as he remembers it, I said Sharon, if you were the police chief, what is the one thing you'd like to see happen?
Moose posed the question at a good time, because a recent neighborhood meeting McCormack had attended had put her in a reflective frame of mind; she recalls:
Some officers . . . were requested to come to this meeting in the Boise neighborhood, which is a predominantly African-American neighborhood, poor, and one that had been hard-hit by drug houses. And these officers came in to report at the meeting. And when they walked in, the neighborhood people stood up and applauded. And they were so happy, these couple of drug houses had finally gotten popped in the neighborhood. And this one officer said, I havent been with this many good guys in I dont know how many years. And he said, Im speechless; I cant believe that that's how people feel. And citizens were saying, Well, we know a lot of this already, if we could have just told you, this probably wouldn't have had to go on as long.
The experience got McCormack thinking that Portland was missing regular police-community interaction. It was not that officers never went to neighborhood meetings; it was just that it didnt happen very systematically. So as she watched the satisfaction, but also the surprise that the officers felt upon their warm reception by the groupshe knew from working closely with community groups over the years that they did value what the police were doing, the idea dawned on her that this sort of thing should happen more often. McCormack raised the idea as an answer to Mooses question:
So I said to Lieutenant Moose at that point, I would have an officer, a district officer assigned to [each] neighborhood association so that people can meet the officer that patrols in their district, get a sense of whats going on, ask them about things, share information. And the officers can experience some of the positive people in the neighborhoods. Because if youre just driving through the neighborhood and the only people you see are the bad guys, then you dont have much of a sense of that there really are a lot of people who care.
Moose immediately accepted the idea, as he too had noticed problems with the existing, informal system. Prior to that, as the North Precinct captain, there were over twenty-five neighborhoods in North Precinct, Moose remembers.
So in the course of a year, the smarter neighborhood associations would figure out a way to write a letter or make certain phone calls, and then maybe the precinct captain would go to their neighborhood meeting. And so maybe you went there once a year, or maybe you went there once every two years. And everybody would be glad to see you, and they would ask questions: Why were the police down at this corner last night? Or, What happened down there two weeks ago? Or, When is somebody going to come and fix this problem on my street? And you would write down certain addresses.
The NLO idea promised not just more frequent meetings, but also more informed ones: NLOs would have long-term responsibility for a particular neighborhood, and they would meet with the neighborhood association at least once a month. As a result, they would come to learn their areas of responsibility intimately. Moreover, because every neighborhood in the precinct would be assigned an officer, the politically-savvy neighborhoods would not be the only ones to benefit.
In any case, Moose got started on the idea immediately. With support from his precinct commander, Alan Orr, Moose assembled a team of 10 volunteers to serve as the PPBs first NLOs. The volunteers were some of the precincts most motivated officers, but Moose and McCormack recognized that the new program would demand new skills, so they developed a short training program for the NLOs. As McCormack remembers:
We werent sure exactly how that was going to work, but we did some training with them on what to do in meetings. Because that was a new role for them, to have to go do presentations. And how do you deal with the drunk in the back of the room whos going to yell at you about the cops? Or the person who's talking about getting their bike stolen twelve years ago, and how they werent treated respectfully? So we did some training on general meeting skills and on effective presentations, and we also gave some background on the issues in each neighborhood.
Moose helped pave the way for the NLOs in other ways as well, notably by attending the initial neighborhood meetings with the officers, making sure each side knew what role to play, and following up with the officers after each of the early meetings. In the event, the initial program was a widely-recognized success. Orr reports that the original volunteers were satisfied with their role, and according to McCormack, it was very popular with the neighborhoods as well (she reports that they were particularly flattered when NLO officers got business cards that identified the neighborhood they belonged to).
Nevertheless, a few problems began to crop up as time wore on. The first was a problem with individual neighborhood associations. One NA in particular generated a lot of complaints from officers, who felt that they were not being treated respectfully. The situation became bad enough that Orr got involved, contacting the NAs president. The precinct commander remembers: I said, Look, my officers have enough stress as it is working the street. If you cannot at least be humane with my people, Im either going to have to go to these meetings [myself, or stop sending officers altogether]. The NA president agreed to work on the problem, and when Orr returned to the meeting a few months later, the situation had completely changed: It was like somebody just dropped me in from outer space here, because this group was totally different. Because they can no longer throw stones at this officer because the officer was part of their group.
The second problem proved to be more intractable. Moose had run the program on a volunteer basis, and he and Orr had tried to make it an attractive assignment with the aura of an elite unit. The result was a highly-motivated group, but it was also a very temporary one. As Orr explains,
The people that volunteered for these particular positions were our best and brightest people. And as soon as the Drug and Vice Division saw what a wonderful job they were doing with NLO program, they were grabbed up and sent down there. Several of them were promoted to Supervisor. Which is the nature of [this strategy]: Some of your brightest and best volunteer for these kind of things, and end up elsewhere.
In any case, within a year of starting the program, nine of the ten original NLOs had been transferred to special units or promoted. That was clearly a blow for a community policing program based on the continuity of relationships; but at the same time, the Bureau could hardly force NLO officers to stay in the position, something that would be tantamount to punishing them for a job well done. This dilemma, and the turnover problem in general, has been a continuing struggle for the PPB.
Despite these glitches, the program was successful enough on balance that Potter eventually decided to implement it throughout the PPB. That process uncovered a whole set of new bugs that had to be worked-out. In particular, officers and even captains in other precincts were more resistant to the idea than those in North had been: Some simply didnt like going to the meetings, while others felt that they took too much time. Moreover, throughout the Bureau, there was a danger that by designating NLOs as community liaisons, other patrol officers might lose their sense of responsibility to the community. But through a process of trial, error, and compromise, the Bureau worked through the most severe crises, developing a Bureau-wide program that most consider to be central to Portlands community policing effort.
Bubbling Up as a Working Style
In any case, the program illustrates the way in which Portland opened itself up to new innovations. The PPB administration clearly encouraged experimentation: Mooses assignment was flexible by design, as he received only a general mandate to work with the community to stabilize troubled neighborhoods, leaving it to him to determine what that might mean; and the Bureau backed him up when difficulties arose. Moose seized on that flexibility and support, creating not only the NLO program, but also the second pillar of community policing at the patrol level, the Neighborhood Response Team (NRT). In both cases (McCormack reportedly had a hand in designing the NRT as well), his innovations emerged in part because of a continuing collaboration with outside partners that allowed the Bureau to draw on their unique perspectives.
4. The COPS grants
Compared with other police departments around the country, Portland got a relatively early start on community policing. Many of the crucial changes were set in motion in the planning meetings of 1989, and considerable progress had been made in implementation by the time Potter resigned in 1993. Consequently, it is not surprising that the Title I COPS grantswhich did not become available until 1994did not play a central role in the PPBs transformation.
But asking how the COPS grants pushed Portlands transformation is not quite the right question. The Portland case instead reveals a different role COPS might play, namely, what use police agencies with mature community policing programs might find for the grant money.
Grants in Portlands Past and Present
Even before it officially turned to community policing, the PPB actively pursued grant money, and it more generally maintained a strong presence on the national community policing scene. For example, in the mid-1980s, Portland became one of a handful of cities to participate in a BJA-funded demonstration project that sought to test out Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) concepts. Indeed, some in the PPB credit the CPTED project with helping to pave the way for community policing, since in practice the Portland CPTED programs took the form of community problem-solving that was hard to distinguish from community policing.
In any case, with a history of looking to federal, state, and local funding opportunities, it was natural for the PPB to look towards grants to finance parts of its transition to community policing. The transition plan institutionalized this process, creating a grants and finance committee charged with identifying outside funding for the special projects that arose during the transition. The committee had no trouble doing so, and Portland got substantial federal grants to fund planned demonstration projects, a landlord training program, and a massive study that aimed to develop new performance measures appropriate for community policing (something that the transition plan identified as a crucial need).48 More recently, Planning and Support has assigned a staffperson to scan for funding opportunities and research them, trying to locate grant money that fits into Portlands plans and capacities. The result of all this activity is that in addition to the Title I COPS grants described below, Portland has found many sources of outside funding since the early years of the transition. For example, in 1996 the PPB received a $1.8 Million Local Law Enforcement block grant to fund diverse Bureau initiatives, including equipment, salary for a domestic violence sergeant, a large-scale downtown problem-solving initiative, and large amounts of overtime for detectives, precinct officers, and gang unit members. And quite recently, the PPB received federal money to participate in the federal Police Corps program, which tries to encourage college-educated youth to consider careers in policing. In addition to the financial incentives (the federal government paid the PPBs training costs for the Police Corps candidates, and will cover part of their salaries for four years), the Police Corps program allowed the state to experiment with its training program.
Overall, Portlands strategy has mostly been to look for grant sources to fund specific programs that current finances do not allowit has until very recently pursued relatively few general-purpose grants that fund basic needs like patrol officer salaries. For example, the use of grant money for demonstration projects and large-scale problem-solving efforts has been particularly important. Precinct commanders have some free money for overtime and special expenses, but not enough to support the largest initiatives, particularly if multiple problems demand the precincts attention. Consequently, the Bureau apparently encourages the precincts to seek outside funding when these sorts of needs arise.
The Title I COPS Grants
Portlands use of the COPS grants mostly follows this pattern of using grant money to fund targeted projects. Until very recently, most of Portlands Title I money has come from COPS MORE, beginning with a $30,000 grant in 1995 for camera equipment, which precinct officers use in problem-solving efforts (particularly those focused on graffiti, drug houses, and auto theft). Portlands largest Title I grant was the MORE 96 grant it recently received. The grant funded two separate initiatives: A technology initiative to improve precinct computer systems, and a civilianization grant to help pay for front-desk staff.
The technology component of the MORE 96 grant fed into a longstanding PPB priority. Planning and Support staffmember Steve Beedle, who had a hand in the grant application and who works on crime analysis in the Bureau, explains that the PPB has for a long time been [exploring] how we do crime statistics and share crime information, and that the sharing of information, . . . is all part of the strategic plan as well as the original transition plan. Over time, the Planning and Support Division has developed a particular philosophy about the best way to work with information:
Our basic premise here is [that] we can provide information, . . . [but] the best people to do the analysis and interpretation are the people who work in that areawhether they're Community Crime Prevention personnel or they're district officers. . . You can make very wrong assumptions from a central office, and not knowing it reduces your credibility. Why guess? [Instead,] we'll work closely with them. What time periods do they need? What type of information did they want? Here it is. If that's not exactly, after looking at it, what works best, we'll come back and do something else but let them do the problem-solving, making the interpretations. It's just worked out really well over the years. You don't have a central office that isn't that familiar with the actual area.
Thus, the PPBs philosophy of crime analysis has been to work as closely as possible with front-line workers; Beedle and others eschew regular crime analysis bulletins, preferring to respond to specific requests.
Given this philosophy, the next logical step was to make the primary databases directly accessible to front-line workers, and the PPB started to undertake a technology project that would improve precinct computer technologies and connect the precincts to the central computer. As Beedle explains the project: The idea was to have all officers be able to walk up to a precinct computer and with very minimal training, they'll walk up and click: Okay, I need arrests, I need calls for services; I need reported crimes for this area, this time period; I need them displayed; I need a report. So they can do a lot of that work. The PPB began to develop the necessary systems in the last couple of years, but it quickly found that the effortparticularly connecting the remote sites to a central serverwas more expensive than anyone had predicted.
Consequently, the PPB turned to COPS MORE to move the initiative along. The MORE 96 grant specifically funded several important elements of the overall plan, including buying hardware and custom-developed software to install into the precincts, and helping to pay for the remote servers and associated equipment that would link the precinct computers to the central server.49 The first test sites have only recently become operational, so it is too early to tell how well the system will serve its intended purposes. But although Beedle explains that there were some difficulties implementing the system due to the rapid pace at which technology changes, he does not report any major disappointments. In any case, the MapInfo-based interface was designed (with input from a users committee) to be easy-to-use; as Beedle puts it, You can walk up to it, right here, and you can read, Select your area; select the type of crime; select the time period; produce map. The Bureau has begun training officers to use the new equipment, and it should be fully operational a few months from now.
The civilianization part of the MORE 96 grant fulfilled a more recently-identified need, namely, replacing the sworn officers who worked the front desks in Portlands precincts with civilians. Chief Moose explains the this move as a way to put more officers out to do community policing, as opposed to having them at the desk, and the Bureau also apparently felt that civilianization might help it standardize and improve service at the front desks.50 Moose made the effort his top budget priority in 1996 and got approval from council and the mayor, but when a threatened teachers strike forced the city to dip into other departments funds to support the schools, Mayor Katz decided to postpone the initiative. Portland turned to the COPS program for help, asking for 3 months salary for the 42 desk workers so that they would get started closer to the time the Bureau had originally wanted. The grant was approved, and civilians have already started working in some PPB precincts. Precinct personnel report that turnover was a problem at first, and they attribute it to inaccurate expectations (in particular, some civilians apparently quit because they didnt like dealing with the irate citizens who sometimes came in to the precincts). But overall the Bureau has been happy with the applicants it got and has not encountered major problems in civilianization (for example, sworn personnel do not appear to feel that civilians are stealing their jobs, as is sometimes the case in police departments).51
This type of use of COPS moneyas a way to repair the damage of budget crisesfound its most dramatic expression very recently, when the Bureau received its first hiring grant from the Universal Hiring Program (UHP). The grant had its roots in 1996, when Oregon voters approved a property-tax reduction measure (called Measure 47) that sent most cities into budgetary crisis. Portland faced overall budget cuts of nearly 10%, and though Measure 47 explicitly directed cities to give priority to public safety, the PPBs cuts (of 4.75%) touched almost every part of the organization. In August of 1997, Chief Moose took the Bureaus troubles to Washington, personally applying to the COPS office for a hiring grant that would pay for 60 officers, and asking for a full waiver from the usual 25% matching requirement. To support his case, Moose pointed towards the extraordinary circumstances that Measure 47 represented, and he outlined an uncommonly explicit plan for retention: The city committed itself to putting away approximately $1 million per year from its general fund so that it could draw on the money when the grants expired (Mayor Katz, a fiscal conservative who takes pride in Portlands AAA bond rating, would settle for no less). In the event, COPS approved Portlands proposal, and Moose came back from Washington as something of a local hero. The grant made front page news in the Oregonian, and many inside and outside the PPB credited the chief with averting the most severe crisis the Bureau had faced in recent years.
COPS and Organizational Change in Portland
Thus, even relatively mature community police departments like Portland have been able to find uses for the COPS funding in their organizational change efforts. In Portland, the technology grants helped advance a specific element of the Bureaus information systems goals, namely, decentralized access to crime data. This part of Portlands grants represent a clear case in which grant money helped advance a specific community-policing related organizational change (here, in administrative systems for managing and distributing information), despite the fact that most of Portlands fundamental changes began several years ago. Moreover, the UHP grant arguably gave the Bureau a shot of resources and self-esteem at a moment of severe budgetary stressstress that some began to doubt community policing could survive.
The civilianization element, on the other hand, fed only marginally into organizational changes related to community policing. To the extent that civilianization improves the quality of front-desk service by hiring specialized personnel for the positions, it is arguably an effort to improve community relations at the precinct level. But that does not seem to be the PPBs main justification for the change. Instead, the Bureau primarily sees civilianization as a way to put more community police officers on the street. In that capacity, the grant directly fulfills the overriding legislative goal for the COPS programs, which is to increase community policing presence in the U.S.even if it does not contribute to organizational change in Portland. Indeed, COPS MORE-funded redeployment in an experienced department like Portland clearly leads to increased community policing presence, as over the course of several years, that style of policing has become firmly entrenched in the PPB.
III. THE PORTLAND POLICE BUREAU TODAY
1. Relationship to the Environment
In Portland, community policing is fundamentally about shared decisionmaking. Consequently, it is not surprising that one of the most dramatic changes in the PPB is the way it deals with the outside world. The Bureau has opened itself up considerably to outside influences on its decisionmaking; and it has shifted and expanded the set of partners with whom it collaborates.
The Authorizing Environment
The transition to community policing did not, of course, change the structural relationship between the PPB and city hall very much: The mayor still acts as the police commissioner, and city council still has essentially the same formal authority over the PPB. What has changed is the attitude the PPB takes towards the power elected officials have over it. The two city performance audits of the Bureau that have taken place in the past decade provide clear cases for comparison. The 1987 audit, just before Walker took office, criticized the Bureaus self-serving budget requests and its unwillingness to take outside advice, and then-chief Daviss response to the document was so unconstructive that Clark fired him as a result. By contrast, the 1994 audit was a largely positive document, noting that the PPB had responded to many outside suggestions about how to improve its efficiency. Moreover, the Bureau readily accepted those criticisms the audit did make; Chief Mooses response to the document was that it contained valuable information for the Bureau to work on.52 To be sure, many officers feel that elected officials do not understand their problems and do not give them enough supportfeelings that have been exacerbated by the recent and severe round of budget cuts. But higher-level managers, at least, seem more open to dialogue with city officials.
The Bureau has several ways of proactively and systematically managing these relationships. First of all, over the past few years it has made a practice of briefing all newly-elected city councilors about police matters in general, and about ongoing PPB projects in particular. Second, several sorts of regular meetings encourage accountability and dialogue: The mayor and the chief meet weekly to review crime statistics and discuss major police issues (for example, the Bureaus recent focus on auto theft emerged partly out of these discussions); biweekly Chiefs Forum meetings bring together police management, community members, and representatives appointed by city council and the mayor; and the newly-revitalized Police Internal Investigations Auditing Committee (PIIAC) acts on behalf of city council to hold the PPB accountable for investigating abuses of power (in this connection, it is important to note that Lisa Botsko, PIIACs full-time staffperson, reports a much-improved relationship with internal affairs). Finally, the Bureaus biannual strategic plans are developed with extensive input from city hall, and the PPB ultimately brings them to council to be adopted officially.
All of this activity adds up to a substantial dialogue between PPB management and elected officials about high-level policy issues. That dialogue takes place against a background understandinginstitutionalized in city council resolutions and officially-recognized strategic plansabout the terms of accountability, which center on the ideal of community policing. Again, many officers apparently prefer the old professional model of autonomy. But Bureau managers do appear to accept the demand for accountability and shared decision-making.53
Community Groups and the Public
Community groups had considerable access to the PPB even before the transition to community policing. But community policing has expanded that access by institutionalizing police-community dialogue at the beat level and by expanding public input into Bureau policymaking. The Bureau has also pursued other forms of police-community collaboration, like running police athletic leagues, using precinct space for community service activities, distributing a community newsletter, and maintaining crisis response teams made up of volunteers who help victims and communities deal with the aftermath of crime and other traumas. This section, however, will focus on the ways in which the PPB shares decisionmaking with the community.
Several organizational systems promote community input at the neighborhood level. The Neighborhood Liaison Officer program is one: Since every one of Portlands 95 neighborhood associations has an NLO, the entire city has formalized access to the PPB. To be sure, some officers, and even some precinct managers, are less enthusiastic about the NLO program than others (a common complaint is that the meetings take too much valuable time, and in response some precincts do not require their NLOs to attend an NAs entire meeting). But for the most part, the NLOs do seem to serve their intended purpose.
In any case, other systems also promote community input. One is the Problem Identification Form (PIF) that the PPB and ONA make widely-available to Portland residents, and which is the dominant way problems come to PPB attention (for example, crime analysis plays a decidedly secondary role in identifying problems). For larger problems, the Bureau has developed a partnership agreement process whereby community groups, city agencies, and the PPB itself explicitly outline the contributions they will make to solving specific neighborhood problems. Finally, by redrawing district boundaries to match those of the NAs, the Bureau has developed clear lines of accountability between patrol officers and community organizations. District officerseven those who are not NLOsare expected to attend meetings in their neighborhoods, and when community members nominate small problems that a single officer can manage, district officers typically get the job.
ONA is a staunch partner in all of this, and it often helps manage the intense demands community members place on the PPB. For example, community requests for crime analysis information are usually filtered through the coalition offices; ONA oversees and regulates an extensive citizen patrol program; and in some precincts, the coalition offices also collect many neighborhood complaints directly from residents, collating the information and presenting it to precinct managers in weekly meetings.
To be sure, as ONA has grown and formalized many of its services, some Portland residents have become frustrated with it; and others seem to dislike the corporatist system of government-sponsored community organizations in general. For example, Richard Brown, co-chair of the Black United Front, argues that protocol and regulations can get in the way of grassroots initiative:
[For example,] the neighborhood crime prevention people. You may call them up, and you give them the information. And they . . . set out [a] plan. Well, people have not always been enthusiastic about doing it that way. An example: Not too long ago, because of the success we had with our foot patrol [a foot patrol Brown and others organized outside of the ONA system], other people wanted to have foot patrols. But the way the crime prevention requirements were set up, you had to have a neighborhood watch first. Well, my [opinion] is that whatever people want to do, thats what you do. You dont impose your requirements on themyou know, having them do something else . . . So the result was a lot of people called me to give them a briefing on forming a foot patrol rather than go through the system.
More generally, Brown argues that the NAs have this bureaucracy to go through, so they can sometimes undermine good relationships. Its not necessarily to fault them, Brown says, but the system just doesnt allow the [right] relationship . . . with citizens to happen.54
In any case, Brown himselfa prominent community activist with ties to the mayor and many other elected officialshas spearheaded his own community-based public safety initiatives, notably an organization called Hope and Hard Work that meets weekly. These meetings bring together a formidable problem-solving team, including representatives from several city Bureaus (Brown often invites staff from specific agencies to a meeting to respond to issues raised at the previous one), the county DA, and more often than not, the Mayor (or at least her senior staffperson). The group has a core of about two dozen community members who attend fairly regularly, but new faces continually pass through to discuss concerns in their neighborhoods.
In any case, between the elaborate structure ONA has evolved into and the less formal associations like Browns, Portland residents have many avenues whereby they can raise neighborhood concerns for police. The citys extensive civic activism puts great demands on the PPB, but it also simplifies the Bureaus job by giving some organization to the babble of requests that might otherwise bombard it. Moreover, Portlands many active groups help do some of the legwork of problem-solving, as when Browns group rounds up other city agencies.
Beyond this neighborhood-level collaboration, the PPB opens up high-level policymaking in several ways. Most notably, the Chiefs Forum meets every other week to discuss major issues facing the Bureau. But the PPB also maintains several advisory committees made up of representatives of specific groups (like the African-American Roundtable and the Asian Law Enforcement Council), and it designates high-level PPB managers as liaisons to relevant communities. Similarly, precinct-level decisionmaking takes place with the advice of precinct advisory councils, and one precinct also maintains a separate youth advisory council. Finally, for major decisions like the biennial strategic plans and the appointment of a new Chief, the Bureau seeks more extensive community input.
The recent and massive round of budget cuts associated with Measure 47 provided a test of the PPBs commitment to shared decisionmaking. In the event, the PPB made its difficult decisions in collaboration with the community. Moose maintains:
Yes, we have this fiscal crisis, but at the same hand were going to approach it in an open and democratic fashion. So that we can get as much input and feedback as possible. So that people can be aware of what services are going to be reduced, what services are going to be kept. Even in this crisis, the philosophy still has to lead. And so you cant decide anything in secret. You cant decide anything in the back room. It has got to be an open and public process.55
The Bureau has consulted with groups like the Chiefs Forum to discuss where it should make cuts and which types of crimes represent priorities (so that, for example, detectives can prioritize their work when cuts force them to make tough choices). To be sure, some PPB managers take some community suggestions with a grain of salt: Im not advocating that we know best and folks dont know, one explains. But sometimes people think with their heart and not their heads, and so you have to balance that. But that is only to say that the consultation is a dialogue: The Bureau does not respond blindly to any citizen request, but it engages in discussion about community concerns.
The Task Environment
Quite apart from the way in which the PPB has changed the bases of authority that govern it, it has also reshuffled the partners with which it works to get its tasks done. The Bureau works more closely with other city agencies and community institutions than it did in years past; and new relationships have developed in the criminal justice area as well.
Beyond the Criminal Justice System
The PPB today works with many outside agencies and community institutions to deal with neighborhood safety problems. One of the most common PPB partners is the Bureau of Buildings, which can pressure or even condemn drug houses that have fallen into disrepair in cases where the PPB has had difficulty using traditional police tactics. Social service agencies have partnered with the PPB in many ways, including working with the gang unit to provide opportunities to troubled youth and training designated officers in crisis intervention techniques. And as a third brief example, the PPB has worked closely with private security forces on several fronts; for example, the Bureaus fraud unit meets monthly with private investigators from area banks to discuss emerging issues and cases of mutual concern.
The PPBs extensive work with city landlords is perhaps the most sophisticated example of collaboration. The Bureau recognized early on in its transition to community policing that property managers have great powers to deal with many neighborhood problems, and in 1989 it began work on a massive campaign to educate them as to how they could use those powers most effectively. The effort centered on a formal Landlord Training Program, developed and run in collaboration with a private consulting firm, which dealt with issues like how to screen tenants effectively, how to streamline evictions, and how physical security could help prevent crime. Several thousand landlords have participated in the program, and one survey found that over 90% of them went on to make changes in the way they managed their property. Less formal training takes place as well: In some neighborhoods, the standard response to a new landlord seems to be an invitation to a community meeting, where officers and others can give tips on security.
The PPB offers support to landlords as they try to apply these techniques. For example, in order to support tenant screening, it encourages landlords to send tenants to the station to receive their police record; as one PPB member explains:
We make an agreement with them that they have whoever wants to rent an apartment come to us. We cant give the landlord a copy of their police record or PPDS [STANDS FOR?] but we can give that copy to the person, and then that person will have to [give it to the landlord]. [The rental agreement] stipulates, You have to give me your PPDS. So in six months, if the landlord is able to screen everybody coming into his building, hes going to clean it up.
Thus in addition to training landlords how to exercise their powers effectively, the Bureau offers its services so that they can actually follow through on the advice. As another example in this spirit, the PPB regularly signs partnership agreements with landlords that authorize officers to cite people for trespassing; though the law does not explicitly require such agreements, judges and DAs have come to expect them, and they will not take cases without them.56
The police-landlord collaboration has been strengthened through support from other partnerships the PPB has developednotably its work with city council to develop legal tools for handling problem properties. Several new city ordinances have created penalties for landlords who fail to address safety problems in their developments; for example, the Chronic Nuisance Ordinance fixes a penalty of up to $500 per day that can be levied against landlords if their buildings become chronic nuisances as defined in the ordinance. The sanction itself is rarely applied, but the threat (often delivered by the Bureau of Buildings) reportedly helps get cooperation from difficult landlords. One Bureau member explains that in the past, when police make contact with property owners and you discuss this problem with them, they kind of hem and haw because the moneys still coming to them for rent. But, he continues, Now that relationship is different based on the new city ordinance. Another interviewee gives this hypothetical example:
[Say] Ive got a confirmed drug house. I need to make it go away. I am going to call the owner. . . So I call the owner, and I say, Look, we have a thing here called the Chronic Nuisance Ordinance . . . . Youve got an identified drug house here. You own it. Here are the facts of the case, we went in and found this, that, and the other things. If you dont take steps to remedy that situation we are going to board that house up for a year. And we can do it under this ordinance here. Here is the ordinance, take it to your lawyer, check it out. . . . [And] they get sent a letter [that] says, We want to be a part of that strategy. We want to be a part of the solution so please call us. We can help you. And they always do.
Thus the ordinance provides an implicit threat that reshapes the terms of the police-landlord relationship: Property managers have a very real monetary incentive to cooperate with police in a way that they did not necessarily in the past. The PPBs partnership with the Bureau of Buildings plays similar role: The city rarely condemns problem properties, but the PPB and its partners can wield the threat of doing so in order to coax landlords into making necessary improvements.
Criminal Justice Partners
As the PPB has begun to work more closely with partners in municipal government and the community, it has in some ways detached itself from the criminal justice system and related partners.57 The PPBs 1996-1998 strategic plan provides a revealing illustration: While the Bureau offered the plan up for review by many partners in city government and the community, it neglected to include the countys Public Safety Coordinating Council (which includes agencies like the county Sheriff, the DAs office, and corrections) in that process.58 No one in the PPB would deny that the strategic plan has an impact on these agencies. But the event is suggestive because it shows that authorization for PPB actions lies firmly in the local community, not the criminal justice system.
Portland also has an intriguingly guarded link to another traditional police partner, namely, informants. To be sure, the PPB still uses informants extensively. But the Bureaus philosophy about informants seems to be stricter than what is found in many other police departments. For example, when community complaints turn out to focus on the activities of an informanthowever valuable that person is, the informant invariably loses; this interviewee echoes the sentiment of others in the Bureau on the matter:
That issue [informants who generate community complaints] has come up and you have to deal with the informant. You just cant allow them to run rampant. . . . . If that informant is going to be a problem then you get rid of them. Its that simple. The informant is a crookI mean theyre all involved in doing something illegal, otherwise they wouldnt be worth a damn in working with the police. Somebody who goes to Sunday school and knows no criminals is no use to us in that regard; so you have to be somewhat tolerant. But if there is a problem, theyre committing crimes, you cant allow that to occur, then you take down the informant . . . The perception the public has of the police is more important than what you can do with that informant.
More concretely, Bureau policy and pressure from the DAs office has made it harder to work with informants: DAs are reportedly less and less likely to completely drop charges in exchange for cooperation as informants, and the Bureau has instituted stricter rules about paying informantsfor example, informants are no longer supposed to be paid unless they produce usable information, and many informants simply will not work on those terms, since they cannot predict the fruits of their efforts. Moreover, the DAs office has worked hard to develop a protocol for getting search warrants based entirely on citizen complaints and observations, thereby making informants less and less necessary (one of their major purposes is to get sufficient information to secure a search warrant). Overall, it seems that although work with informants still takes place, it is becoming both less workable and less necessary as a tactic for dealing with neighborhood problems.
But the PPB has not entirely abandoned its traditional criminal justice partners, and Bureau relationships with prosecutors, courts, and other police agencies are in general quite good. Tension has sometimes cropped up in these relationships, like the one between the PPB and the Multnomah County Sheriffs Office (apparently because of talk about merging the two agencies). But in general the PPB enjoys a good reputation among other criminal justice agencies, and it has even helped pushed innovation in them. For example, some of the PPBs problem-solving tools (like the Chronic Nuisance Ordinance) have diffused to neighboring jurisdictions. More generally, the Bureau works closely with many other law enforcement agencies, such as police forces in neighboring towns, the FBI, and the INS. Moreover, the PPB has a high profile in the national circles of police professionals, having gotten enormous attention for its community policing program, and having hosted many national and regional police conferences. Indeed, the PPBs efforts to pull back from its traditional criminal justice and related partners have very specific sources. Most notably, the crisis in jail space described above has become even more acute in recent years: Even during periods of low activity, the county jail often reaches its legal capacity, and a Bureau spokesman has publicly gone on record to say what many officers have always said and still saythat the crowding makes them less likely to arrest suspects on less serious charges.59
With traditional avenues like jail and informants less viable, it is not surprising that the PPB has turned to the non-traditional partners it has. Indeed, the one criminal justice partner with whom the PPB has noticeably strengthened its relationshipthe Multnomah County DAhas itself taken a nontraditional turn. Beginning in 1990 as a pilot project in Portlands Lloyd District, the Multnomah County DAs office has developed an innovative program of neighborhood-based prosecution. Briefly, the program assigns neighborhood-based DAs to specific Portland neighborhoods, charging them with developing innovative strategies to combat local safety concerns. Neighborhood DAs do not try cases: Instead they work closely with community and business groups, Portland Police (most are stationed out of PPB precincts), and other relevant partners to find solutionsoften not based on prosecution at all. For example, Neighborhood DAs have developed a protocol for citizen-driven search warrants (which are based entirely on citizen tips rather than undercover buys) that is now in use throughout Multnomah County; and they have helped spearhead many of the city ordinances that support PPB problem-solving work. From the police perspective, the neighborhood DAs are particularly important as live-in legal consultants able to offer many levels of advicefrom legal advice about entire problem-solving strategies, to on-scene advice about how to charge a particular suspect. For example, one officer who worked on a PPB demonstration project and developed new problem-solving strategies explains: They virtually gave us carte blanche. I was in control of my own caseload. And I could resolve it any way I saw fit as long as I stayed out of the liability area. And how I stayed out of the liability area is every move I made I went to [the precinct Neighborhood DA] if I had a question. You know, he was my legal analyst. Indeed, with innovation comes potential legal trouble, and the close working relationship with the Neighborhood DAs has been instrumental in Portland.
The Patrol Force
Portlands patrol operations break down into five precincts, and each precinct divides patrol officer work into two units: The Neighborhood Response Teams (NRTs) and the patrol districts (though there are other minor units, like the K-9 officers, who do not typically take 911 calls nor work directly under the NRT unit). They are joined by investigative units such as the Gang Enforcement Team found in [? Most/one?] precincts and the property crimes detectives found in all of them.
The PPB assigns most patrol officers to one of 95 patrol districts over three shifts (whose hours vary from precinct to precinct). These officers are known as district officers because they are assigned permanently to a particular district for a particular shift, at least until they transfer to another assignment. A smaller number of so-called utility officers fill in for different district officers during their days off, vacation, and sick days; and they sometimes join district officers who patrol particularly active areas. In each district, one of the three district officers is designated as the Neighborhood Liaison Officer (NLO) and has primary responsibility for things like attending NA meetings.
The district officers and utility officers have responsibility for three things: Taking 911 calls in their district, patrolling it, and helping to identify and solve community problems. High-priority 911 calls are assigned by central dispatch, while officers essentially assign themselves to lower-priority calls (district officers usually take all the low-priority calls in their districts, but they can themselves decide when to take the calls, which appear on their MDTs as open calls but are not broadcast over the radio). Officers themselves choose how and where to patrol, though their sergeants often point out hotspots during roll call, and some precincts maintain a top ten list of problem properties.
Problem-solving is the core of community policing, and all precincts try to involve their district officers in it. Sometimes district officers will be pulled out-of-service or given overtime so that they can work on problems without interruption from 911 calls, but for the most part officers are supposed to use their free time for problem-solving. Smaller problems get assigned to the officers themselves, and they are held accountable for clearing them by their supervisors. Larger problem-solving efforts are typically spearheaded by the NRTs, but district officers get involved where appropriatefor example, they must enforce trespass agreements with landlords, patrol trouble spots, and help NRT officers identify people in their districts (the NRTs work throughout the city and hence are not particularly familiar with any particular neighborhood).
Some district officers still resist participating in problem-solving work. For example, one officer described a coworker who did not want to get involved in a problem-solving project in his district because his thing was catching bank robbers. But the more common objection seems to be a narrower objection to the new SARA processa complaint that does not seem to be directed at problem-solving per se so much as it is directed at the new language for describing it. One PPB manager makes that point with reference to a particular problem-solving project he assigned to his officers:
Im afraid still, even in 1997, if I labeled thatI have a community policing project to work on, and this is how I want this community policing project to go, I would meet with a lot of resistance. But if I say, Were going to do a mission here and these are the three things were going to do, they wouldnt think that. They would go along with it. But we do have a problem with the terminology yet.
Indeed, some department members hypothesize that the existence of old problem-solving routines has made some officers jealous of the new ones.
In any case, many officers clearly consider problem-solving work an exciting alternative to patrol and taking 911 calls, and the department seems to have innumerable problem-solving stories to tell. Moreover, officers today have more time to devote to such activity, as the amount of time they spend responding to radio calls has dropped from 43% of their shift in 1987 to 35% of their shift in 1994 [NEWER DATA?].60
The Neighborhood Response Teams
The NRTs emerged under then-Lieutenant Moose during his time at North Precinct. The Bureau originally conceived of the teams as temporary units that would disband after they had solved the problems they were targeting, but they have since evolved into a permanent part of the PPB, and all five precincts have them. The NRTs are charged with coordinating the Bureaus response to most neighborhood problems, and they themselves tackle some types of problems. Each team is fairly small, consisting of [X-Y] officers, and it is supervised by both a sergeant and the day shift Lieutenant (NRTs used to have their own Lieutenants, but past budget cuts eliminated those positions).
As coordinators, the NRTs oversee problem-solving in their respective precincts. Problems are first identified on a Problem Identification Form (PIF), and the PPB processes thousands of these forms every year. Each precincts NRT has responsibility for managing the forms: The NRT sergeant decides who to assign each problem to (sometimes in consultation with others), and the team catalogues all of its precincts PIFs in a computer database. Whoever ultimately gets assigned to the problemusually the district officer for the appropriate shiftdevises a strategy for dealing with it and gives a target date for finishing the job, information that is also entered into the PIF catalog. By the target date, the officer is expected to notify NRT as to how she has handled the problem. Once a month, NRT sends out an update about PIF activity, highlighting inactive problems so that supervisors can hold their officers accountable.
The NRTs themselves work on larger problems and those that require collaboration with other city Bureaus. One Bureau member explains the NRTs in this capacity as a group of folks that can come in and do the more difficult things on a long-term basis that the average district officer doesnt have the time to do. NRT officers work on issues like juveniles drinking in a park, abandoned cars, and minor drug houses. They are protected from 911 calls, so they have free time to do knock-and-talks, surveillance, and whatever else they feel is necessary. Moreover, they have developed strong relationships with other government agencies (notably the Bureau of Buildings, the Bureau of Licenses, the Housing Authority, Parole and Probation, and the Juvenile Court), and these agencies and others often attend NRT meetings. Consequently, most problems that require liaison with outside agencies are handled by the NRTs.
Given its whole cloth philosophy of community policing, which holds that the entire Bureau must take responsibility for community problems, the PPB was initially wary about creating the NRTs as a permanent force. Nevertheless, the small NRTs clearly serve as a focal point for problem-solving in Portland, and the Bureau has come to accept them. One PPB member reports:
Youve got to the point now where people believe that the NRT really has a function within police work. Before it was kind of, Yes for the benefit of the community, but youre really not doing anything for the street guy. . . . [But this has changed] because of the success theyve had, and because of their ability to render resources to the street officer to deal with his problems. The street officers dont have time to structure the programs that are necessary to resolve the problems, but the NRT does. So they can come to the NRT and pose the questions and offer whatever information they have. And then the NRT takes it from there. And so it enhances what the street officer is trying to do in his own district.
Thus, the NRTs are seen as supports for patrol work because of their ability to deliver outside resources, and their ability to spend sustained time on problems that overwhelm individual officers. To be sure, a few interviewees report that some NRTs are more effective than others; and some think that when budget cuts forced the Bureau to eliminate NRT Lieutenants, the teams became less effective. But these complaints arise against a background of acceptance.
Problem-Solving in the PPB
The problems that both NRTs and district officers attend to vary widely in their scope, type, and the strategies used against them. Most problems are small, block-level concerns that a single officer can address through directed patrol. But the Bureau has also taken on many large-scale, geography-based problems (one addressed alcohol-related problems in a large area of downtown, and another focused on multiple problems on a Portland island). These large-scale problems are often formalized through partnership agreements, which identify specific responsibilities and commitments by police and other appropriate groups, and many of them have sought special funding in annual budgets or even through outside grants. Finally, some problems leave the geographic fold altogether, like the auto theft initiative described below and the effort by one precinct to deal with property crime through a partnership with area pawnshops and the FBI.
Responses are as varied as the problems themselves; indeed, the Bureau encourages officers and others to develop creative strategies to solve problems, something emphasized in the touchstone goal of empowerment. Chief Moose explains, Within reason, if its legal and morally right, were bound to try it. But one common thread through at least the larger problem-solving efforts is the importance of data and analysis: Though the PPB does not usually identify problems through crime analysis, it does use crime analysis to uncover patterns in problems identified by the community.
One example can serve to illustrate the cutting edge of problem-solving in Portland, in that it involves multiple partners, different elements of the PPB, and extensive community input; and in that it developed a fundamentally different strategy that bypasses the criminal justice system altogether. Moreover, it is an example where the PPB itself plays a crucial but not a leading role, illustrating the extent to which problem-solving in Portland has grown beyond the police and the Neighborhood Associations from which it was born. It also illustrates some of the concerns that community policing has raised about civil rights, not only in Portland but throughout the country.
The example comes from Portlands Hawthorne district, an eclectic Portland commercial area that maintained a 1960s atmosphere well into the 1990s. Neighborhood DA Tom Cleary, who helped spearhead the Hawthorne initiative, explains that Hawthorne has traditionally been the live and let live sort of area of town. If you want to sit on the sidewalk and pound on bongos, then you sit on the sidewalk and pound on bongos. If you want to hang out and drink coffee and just talk about politics, you do that. . . . It got to [the point that] if you have to use the restroom, well there is the doorway. Thats cool. But according to Cleary, the area began to gentrify in the 1990s, and people began complaining about the more unconventional behaviors:
There had been this shift of tolerance for that sort of activity. . . . The nature of the area changed and continues to change. [It is] now the second least affordable area in the country relative to housing. So all of a sudden, what used to be $60,000 starter homes, they are now $185,000 - $190,000 starter homes. And generally people that are paying that kind of money dont like to take the family out for a walk and have to dodge people who are puking on the sidewalk. So the tolerance level has gone down.
Given a philosophy of treating community concerns as agency concerns (a philosophy shared by the PPB as well as the Neighborhood DAs), Cleary explains that the issue arises, How are we going to deal with these people. We cant wave a magic wand and make them go away. The PPB had long been involved with the problem, but none of its strategies seemed to help.
Early suggestions from the Bureau and the community tried to build on existing strategies, specifically Portlands drug free zones and prostitution free zones. (Drug free zones, for example, are designated areas of the city where those arrested for drugs automatically receive an exclusion from the area; they cannot return to the zone, on penalty of arrest. Certain exceptions are made for zone residents and those needing services or holding jobs in the area.) The idea for the Hawthorne District was to create a no loitering zone within which one had to be buying something, catching a bus, or otherwise carrying out legitimate business. But the business owners, community members, police, and others who were focused on the problem quickly determined that the idea was simply unconstitutional.
Cleary himself stumbled upon an alternative strategy in discussions with a Neighborhood DA from a different part of the city named Wayne Pearson.
I was talking to Wayne because he has the Lloyd Center, which is a big shopping mall here in town, and he says, Well, why do people come to the area? Because when we have problems at the mall we try to identify what is bringing them to the mall. Well what brings them to the area? Well, to drink coffee. Or they like to go into the bird shop and look at the birds. Or they like an Ellis bagel, that sort of thing. And then another person said, Well, have the businesses ever thought about getting together and sending a message of their own?
Specifically, the message would be that anyone who violated the districts norms of behavior would not be welcome in area stores.
Cleary and the others concerned about Hawthorne were intrigued by the idea and followed through on it. The result was an alliance of over 500 businesses in the area, called United Southeast Businesses, that have implemented the groups plan. As Cleary explains it:
The strategy that was built was [that] you will be excluded, or [prohibited from] trespassing, from private [property]. . . if you engage in certain behavior that has been identified by the business association and neighborhood association as being detrimental to the livability of that neighborhood. In other words, come down here and patronize these great stores, but if you are going to come over here and be a jerk, or be a thief, we would just as soon you not come here at all. And so we built this plan where the person would be trespassed out of all of these different businesses if they came back.
The exclusion only applied to private property; Cleary explains: You can walk up and down the sidewalk, you just cant go into any of these stores. But if he and Pearson were right about what attracted people to the area, then the limited threat would be sufficient.
In any case, Cleary and PPB Business Liaison Eric Knudson got together with representatives from the area businesses and the local neighborhood association to flesh out the strategy. The basic idea was simple: The group would create a list of behaviors that would invoke an exclusion, and anyone excluded would be automatically subject to arrest for trespassing if they entered any of the participating businesses. Officers citing an individual for any of the proscribed behaviors would act as messengers of the business association and hand out the exclusions. They would also photograph the offender and distribute the photograph (through a person designated by the Association) to all participating businesses, which usually taped the photos to their cash registers. When business employees saw an excluded person entering their stores, they would call the police to arrest the person for trespassing.
The key step was clearly developing the list of excluded behaviors. Creating the list did not turn out to be controversial. Cleary maintains: People agreed to that real well. What they just took was their own personal experiences, generalizing from them to an abstract statement of what sorts of behavior were unacceptable. The group came to complete consensus on excludable offenses, which included behaviors like shoplifting, disorderly conduct, harassment, assault, drinking in public, drugs, and theft. Since the rule has been in effect, 24 people have been excluded (mostly for shoplifting, drug offenses, and harassmentincluding aggressive panhandling).
According to Cleary, those who frequent the area have become very aware of its rules, and they recognize that police now have a very concrete sanction they can apply if they violate those rules:
Just recently one of the officers that works this plan real hard came in here laughing. He said, You are not going to believe what happened. There is a person out there who . . . was causing a little bit of a problem on the sidewalk, spreading out his shopping carts and all that jazz. The officer came upon him and said, Hey, this is a problem. Youve got to keep this clear for people walking by. He said, Not a problem. I will move it. Please dont exclude me under this plan because that means no more Ellis bagels, no more Oasis pizza. No more Starbucks, no more Coffee People. So whats your purpose for being there.
Thus, the exclusion ultimately becomes a tool for the beat officer trying to maintain order.
The strategy raises obvious concerns about civil liberties, as it bypasses arrest and the safeguards that go with it, turning instead to what is in effect a private justice system. Responding to that suggestion, Cleary explains that it would be real difficult to put together a lot of these strategies without legal analysis. In addition to his help, the business association hired a civil attorney to review the plan and ensure that the defendants rights were protected according to legal requirements. In any case, the plan recently withstood a court challenge and was held up as constitutional, on the grounds that it only restricts access to private property. Moreover, the list of excluded behaviors was created publiclyin concert with both the Business Association and the Neighborhood Association, and it sets out in advance those activities that will not be tolerated; in that way, some see it as an improvement over the less-formal standards of order maintenance that police have always practiced.
Whatever its objective merits, the strategy shows how problem-solving in Portland has taken elaborate forms. The fundamental goal, here and in other PPB problem-solving projects, is maintaining neighborhood order according to the norms of the community; in the Hawthorne District, those norms are clearly and explicitly identified by creating a list of excluded behaviors. To support that goal, the Bureau, the DA, and their community partners developed a new sanction that could be applied to people who violate those normsa sanction that was specifically designed to appeal to offenders motivations for being in the area. Finally, the strategy comes to life in the beat officers who ultimately take responsibility for each district, providing them with a new order maintenance tooland thereby restructuring patrol work even for many traditionalist officers. In this respect, the Hawthorne district is actually typical of many PPB initiatives, like the drug- and prostitution-free zones, the nuisance ordinances, and innumerable trespass agreements.
Investigations and Their Coordination with Patrol
The PPB assigns responsibility for investigations to several different units. The organization of central investigations has changed slightly over the yearsfor example, the Bureau started a special Domestic Violence Response Unit in 1993, and budget cuts have forced some reshuffling of work between property crimes and person crimes. But the major units remain the same: The bulk of investigators work for the Detective Division, which investigates most index crimes as well as many part two crimes; while the second-largest investigations unit is still the Drug and Vice Division (DVD).
Detective Division investigators subdivide into two major groups: Person crimes and property crimes (which is somewhat misnamed for reasons that will become clear). Some detectives have special assignments, such as fraud; but most work general assignment, meaning that they take any case that comes in (indeed, after 4:00 PM, when the afternoon shift comes on, practically all new cases are given to general assignment detectives). Cases mostly come to detectives through police reports, which the Records Division organizes by crime type and sends directly to the Detective Division. A sergeant then assigns cases using the usual criteria of seriousness and solvability. For example, frauds involving small amounts are not usually investigated, medium-sized frauds are investigated if there are good leads, and large frauds are investigated regardless of how much suspect information exists.
The Precinct Detectives
During Portlands transition to community policing, the major reform for detectives was the decentralization of property crimes investigationsmostly burglaryto the precinct level.61 Since [Year?], each precinct has maintained a small property crimes unit, consisting of one sergeant and 4 to 6 detectives (recent budget cuts reduced the number to 3 to 4), that reports to the precincts day shift lieutenant. Records sends most burglary and theft reports directly to the precinct units, which are charged with investigating those crimes within their respective precincts. Each precinct uses its detective unit differently, since there is always some discretion in managing the property crimes workload. North precinct has been perhaps the most creative in its use of detectives, and it can serve as the most idiosyncratic example of how precincts can use their detectives.
North Precinct detectives have not spent all or even most of their time in the way that traditional property crime detectives dothat is, by investigating the individual cases Records sends them. Norths Sergeant Irv McGeachy, who until recently oversaw both the detectives and the NRT officers, explains: If a case came in with a named suspect we were going to work that. But McGeachy felt that investigating cases without suspects (which had traditionally been ignored as unsolvable) was a poor use of the precincts resources. The precinct gave him considerable discretion in how he used the unit, so he chose to try something different.
In a nutshell, McGeachy directed his detectives to use their free time (after investigating specific cases with good leads) to focus on people and on addresses. Targeting people was simple; it simply meant following people who the detectives knew were burglars. We would maybe follow them, McGeachy explains, or when we would see them out and about, we would stop and talk to them, concentrate on them. Or we would put an informant in next to them to see what they were doing.
Targeting buildings usually meant working closely with the NRT officers on drug houses. How this strategy would help solve property crimes was not obvious to many people, but McGeachy argues strongly that it made sense: People involved in property crimes, . . . I would guess that 75% and above are involved in narcotics. In North Precinct, at least, many or even most burglars seemed to take their spoils to drug houses and exchange them for drugs. The result was that drug houses usually contained large amounts of stolen property that detectives could tie to past burglaries in order to bring charges against the offenders. Shutting down drug houses meant clearing up burglaries; and more important, it meant eliminating the immediate reason to commit burglaries in the neighborhood. As McGeachy sees it, both burglaries and drug activity had a common source in the places where criminals congregated: If you take a neighborhood, theres only a few houses, one or two houses maybe, that would be the focus of the attention . . . And thats where everybody goes; whether its to get dope to take their stolen property, to socialize, to whatever.
Norths NRT already maintained a list of drug houses that it had identified from community input and officer knowledge, and McGeachy used that list to assign addresses to his detectives in two ways. First, if a house was primarily a drug problem but there was reason to believe that it also had stolen property, then he would put the NRT in charge of it but allow them to use the detectives to support their work (for example, detectives had the background to write search warrants, conduct interviews, and work informants). On the other hand, some drug houses were located in burglary hotspots (which McGeachy and another officer identified by plotting all the incoming burglary reports), and these were assigned primarily to a detective; in these cases it was the NRT officers who played the supporting role. As McGeachy summarizes the arrangement: If it was a property issue, then the detectives would be the primary, if it was a dope house then the NRT would be the primary.
McGeachy gives an example of how the investigations worked in practice:
There is one house that this person inherited from his mother. He moves in. Hes a well-known drug dealer. His girlfriend [has also] been involved in the business. Her previous husband was a methamphetamine cook. So all of a sudden [theres] all this traffic, all hours of the night. Uniform officers are [trying] to stop people, people are running from them in cars, theyre bailing out of cars. Theres a lot of hard core criminals [who] are stopped, guns taken off of them, either coming or going to this specific house. So we know we have a problem.
The precinct organized a multiagency team to work on the house, including the Bureau of Buildings, the DAs office, district officers, and the NRT and detective unit within the precinct. After a long period of sending in informants, stopping people coming and going from the house, and putting pressure on the landlord to clean up the house physically, the team was finally able to get a search warrant (based mostly on information provided by citizens, since it turned out that the dealers would not sell to the teams informants). As McGeachy remembers it: We get into the house, theres all kinds of stolen property in there. So then the detectives, we have to go through and we attempt to identify and clear burglary cases based upon the recovered property. What this meant in practice was going back through old burglary reports and trying to match the stolen items with what had been found in the house, and often calling up the victims to come down to the precinct for a viewing of the property.
McGeachy admits that some detectives from other units and the central office looked askance at his unorthodox techniques for investigating burglary. In part, he attributes that perception to different conditions in the other precincts, noting that in larger precincts it can be harder for the NRTs and detectives to work as a team the way they did in North. But he also suspects that there is a philosophical or cultural issue at stake: I think the detectives feel that they shouldnt be responsible for nuisance problems, neighborhood problems, he explains.
In any case, other precincts have also used their detectives in nontraditional ways. For example, Lieutenant John Hren relates the story of one precinct that used its detectives to mediate an escalating dispute between the deacons and the pastor in a neighborhood church. Hren accepts such exercises of discretion, but insists on accountability:
If youre a precinct commander and want to do something like that with your resources, you can. [But] if you want to pass on burglary investigations, you need to be prepared to answer to the AC [Assistant Chief] of operations when your burglary numbers go out of sight: How come youre getting your ass kicked in burglaries? Your response, Well, because Ive been solving church disputes. If the AC buys off on that, youre home freeor if you get lucky and your burglary rate stays down.
In any case, the Bureau has given that discretion to its precincts, with the result that their property crimes units have taken sometimes nontraditional forms.
Coordination with Patrol
One of the primary benefits of that discretion in cases like McGeachys is that investigative resources are closely coordinated with the work of the patrol force and, especially, the NRTs. In addition to their direct work with the patrol force, the precinct detectives also serve as a link between patrol and the centralized detectives. Direct interaction between the patrol force and detectives is apparently fairly minimal (perhaps because many central units still have a strongly crime-focused mission, while the patrol force focuses more often on neighborhood quality of life problems). On the other hand, the precinct detectives do sometimes work fairly closely with their centralized counterparts. For example, the central person crimes unit has in the past created formal missions focusing on robberies that include precinct detectives. It may be that these sorts of ties blossom into a more general relationships between the precincts and the centralized detectives.
3. Administrative Systems
Section I.3. described administrative systems in the old PPB as predominantly (though not exclusively) reactive. That is, systems developed to perform functions like hiring, planning, and discipline were not usually guided by the considered choices of Bureau management, but were set in motion by outsiderslike the applicants who applied for jobs, the elected officials who requested status reports, or the citizens who registered complaints. By contrast, many PPB administrative systems today are more self-consciously proactive, in that the explicit choices of Bureau managers control them. For example, the discussion of changes in recruitment and hiring illustrates how the Services Branch now consciously tries to influence the pool of applicants that seek Bureau jobsin Assistant Chief Prunks words, it selects in rather than screens out potential employees. Moreover, many of the PPBs newly-proactive administrative systems are tightly woven together into an integrated process of planning and budgeting. This section will focus on that group of systems, which together shape a large part of PPB administration.
In todays PPB, all planning takes place in the context of the strategic plans described above, which are now produced every other year. Most major Bureau innovations, particularly in administrative systems, take place in the context of these strategic plans, which are developed through an extensive process that involves representatives from the community, city government, and many levels inside the Bureau.
Precinct-level changes are also tied to the strategic plans through the PPBs work plan system. Work plans are produced by each of the Bureaus Responsibility Units (RUs), which include the five precincts as well as non-patrol divisions like the Detective Division, Fiscal Services, and Planning and Support. RUs are assigned a bare minimum of resources (for example, precincts are allocated a certain number of officers to manage the basic load of 911 calls), and they must create work plans that describe all additional projects. For example, each precinct has a workplan for its NRT describing generally what projects the team will focus on for the current biennial budget cycle. Other precinct workplans have covered such initiatives as a community contact office, a precinct crime analyst, or the development and maintenance of trespass agreements with area hotels. In all cases, RUs must tie each of their workplan projects directly to one of the hundreds of objectives outlined in the most recent strategic plan. In this way, RU-level planning takes place in the context of Bureau-wide planning.
The work plans are used for budgeting and for accountability. In budgeting, the workplans serve as the RUs arguments for whatever resources they feel they need beyond the bare minimum determined at the center. As one Bureau manager puts it: What we do is we take our work plan and we look at it and we say, These are our projects; this is what were going to do; and they cost this much money [a calculation made by the fiscal division]. If you dont approve the money, then you dont approve the work project.
The work plans serve as the basis for RU accountability by listing specific outcomes that each project aims to accomplish. These outcomes are typically procedural; for example, one precinct set its NRT the goal of identifying and coordinating problem solving efforts on 100 locations, and it charged its precinct traffic program with coordinating with the Bureau of Transportation and the PPBs Traffic Division on problem locations (among other goals). RUs must submit trimesterly reports that compare actual outcomes to stated goals, and these reports are reviewed by the Chiefs Office. Failure to meet targeted goals is not necessarily taken as a sign of incompetence, but it is often taken as a sign that a program should be discontinued.
This outcome-based (or at least output-based) system of accountability illustrates an important aspect of the PPB. Apart from the workplans themselves, the Bureau regularly sets specific and sometimes measurable goals for its activities. This is perhaps most evident in the strategic plans, which set specific outcome goals like reduction in crime and improvement in the proportion of citizens who feel safe. (Indeed, City Council insists that the PPB and all other city Bureaus set these types of targets, and the Council and the Mayor hold the Chief accountable for meeting them.) But this sort of self-conscious planning and goal-setting shows up in other PPB efforts as well. For example, when auto theft began to climb in Portland, the Bureau tried several strategies in sequence and did not stop experimenting until the auto theft rate finally began to fall (which was the stated goal of each program). In some cases this commitment to planning and evaluation involves sophisticated research techniques, as in the study that the Bureau commissioned to validate its new hiring practices (described above). Many of these studies are oriented towards the PPBs recently-developed set of community policing performance measures, which were themselves developed in the course of an extensive research collaboration between the Bureau and Portland State University.
Nevertheless, the planning and evaluation systems do not exercise perfect control over Bureau activities, even considering the discretion everyone expects them to leave and the havoc that outside events like Measure 47 create in the system. Chief Moose and co-author Annette Jolin provide one example of slippage in a recent Crime and Delinquency article that describes the PPBs new Domestic Violence Reduction Unit (DVRU).62 Briefly, the new unit was designed and sold to City Council and the community as a way to sharply increase the amount of resources brought to bear on individual cases of domestic violence (a strategy described by one DVRU member as Cadillac service). Victims would receive extensive support services, and most offenders would be intensely prosecuted, even in cases where the victim would not cooperate. A team of PSU researchers was charged with undertaking an empirical evaluation of the program, which would try to find out whether or not the unit actually reduced recidivism for domestic violence offenders.
The program exemplifies the planning-and-accountability
model of PPB decisionmaking : The unit and its programs emerged through explicit
planning (which involved community leaders, PPB members, and criminal justice
practitioners), and it received city council approval as a specific budget item.
Moreover, the Bureau tied the units fortunes to an empirical evaluation,
which would judge whether or not its programs seemed to be working.
Nevertheless, the evaluators quickly found that practice easily diverged from planning. First of all, the units captain quickly found that the DVRU could only provide the envisioned Cadillac service for 12% of its cases, so she unilaterally decided to change the content of the program to provide less-intensive services for all cases (a strategy that became known as giving Volkswagen service to all victims). As Jolin and Moose point out, the captain thereby usurped the plans authoritythough not without reasonson the matter of what the DVRU would do.
The evaluation did not work out as planned either, as DVRU members simply did not seem to place much value on the feedback it promised about the effectiveness of their strategies. In order that it could evaluate the strategy that had been designed in advance, the research team tried hard and eventually succeeded in convincing the unit to return to the original plan. But as Jolin and Moose write, the DVRU officers are anxious to have us complete our study. . . . What we hear voiced most often is their impatience to get started on the implementation of new ways of doing their work. The idea that such new ways should be linked to findings from the evaluation of the units current practices is not part of these deliberations. In this case, which has echoes in other stories told in the Bureau , evaluation is not taken seriously as a guide for future problem-solving. Indeed, Jolin and Moose note that the community seems to be equally unconcerned with empirical evaluation of how effective the unit is: Community support for the DVRU appears to exist independently of the programs documented effectiveness.
But the Bureau never expected administrative systems to do all the work of running the organizationwhich is simply to say that PPB managers have considerable discretion to do their work. They exercise that discretion within a broad framework of accountability created by the plan and the outcome measures that support it; in collaboration with their coworkers; and in consultation with the community, which has input on specific problem-solving projects as well as larger precinct decisions.
The precinct commands are a major locus of decisionmaking power, and centralized control over them is relatively weak. The Chiefs office sets some basic parameters within which all precincts must workfor example, discipline must follow the same formulas everywhere, fiscal practices must follow central guidelines, and all shifts must be eight hours (though even that rule represents a recent revocation of authority; and precincts still have discretion regarding what time their eight-hour shifts begin). Similarly, central decisions, many of them associated with strategic planning processes, lay out broad domains of responsibility for various Bureau units. For example, during recent budget negotiations, the Bureau decided that all drug investigations should be centralized, forcing Northeast to disband the drug unit it had chosen to create. But there seems to be wide consensus that the controls that do exist leave considerable discretion to precinct commanders.
The precinct commanders, in turn, do place some moderate limits on their subordinates autonomy. For example, commanders review the potential use of the Chronic Nuisance Ordinance before formal letters invoking the ordinances provisions are sent to offenders, partly in order to protect the tactic from being weakened through overuse. In the same vein, commanders and their Lieutenants are also charged with reviewing the partnership agreements their officers develop; Officer Thomas Peavey, who helped to formalize the partnership agreement process, explains the evolution of this requirement in a way that clarifies the purpose of such review:
The problem is that we got so many [partnership agreements]out there that there was a concern of the Bureau that sometimes we wouldnt be able to pull out of these relationships very successfully, or that we were getting too few resources spread out over too great an area. So there was a general order that was put out that said that unless your RU commander authorized a partnership, [it wasnt valid]. . . . Thats withdrawing a little power from the street level. Thats basically saying OK, now the commanders of the precinct are in control of the partnership. And you can seek that as a remedy as long as your RU commander says Yes thats available to you. But if he doesnt, its not available to you anymore. But at the initial stage of the process it was available, and the Precinct Commander wanting to encourage community problem-solving would allow subordinates to forge agreements with the community without a formal review process.
In both casesthe CNO warning letters and the partnership agreements, review by commanders aims simply to husband Bureau resources, not to undermine low-level autonomy in any substantive way.
Indeed, PPB philosophy essentially holds that employee autonomy is constrained only by the law and the budget. Chief Moose, for example, makes this point explicitly as he describes how new innovations emerge in the Bureau:
Theres still quite a few ideas that just bubble up because some police officer doing the job says, This would be a better way to do the job. And the key for people like myself is to say, OK, I trust you, and I believe you. And what do you need to make that happen? And the officer says, Well, I need a hundred dollars worth for printing, or I need two thousand dollars worth of printing. And maybe at some point if theres a real budget issue we might have to say, Well, we cant afford that. But short of that, with empowerment, you really need to just get out of their way.
This attitude seems to have trickled down in the Bureau, as many officers reported that they feel the administration does encourage them to take risks and back them up when they make honest mistakes; one Bureau member maintains: Now you go out and do, and beg forgiveness later . . . I feel much, much safer and more secure in what Im doing. (Quantitatively, 74% of respondents in a recent PPB survey agreed with the statement, I have the appropriate amount of independence on the job, and 66% agreed that I am encouraged to use initiative in my work.)
Moreover, when other managers talk about how they supervise their troops, they express philosophies almost identical to Mooses. For example, one Lieutenant describes his role as that of a facilitator: Basically, [you] get them the resources and get them more involved. Another manager expresses a related idea as his describes his attitude towards having his officers use overtime:
Theres a lot of freedom, and my philosophy is that were paying these people 40 to 50 thousand dollars a yeartheyre supposed to be professionals. They can make the decision to come in if its a case they want to work on. Well spend the money and do it. Were not only assisting the neighborhood, were assisting the uniform officers, which is very important to be available to assist them. Plus were taking care of the problem.
Thus on many levels, PPB managers see themselves less as supervisors than as resource-providers for their subordinates.
The other major role managers articulate is that of cheerleader for community policing. In part, this role covers everything involved in building support for community policing that was described above. One manager explains You are a big brother, youre a father, youre a cheerleader. I mean, youre everything that you would think your parents were to keep the people focused and going. He goes on to connect this aspect of management to the continuing challenge of implementing community policing, arguing that that job transcends specific organizational systems:
One of the reasons weve been successful is by sheer will of the individual leading the organizationfrom our previous chief to the current chief to the upper management. We havent made this change because people have gone willingly to this new approach to doing work. Its by the personality and the strength of the individuals in these positions that we have pushed, shoved, and prodded people forward into problem solving. And so that is what is not captured in these work plans: The actual dynamic of what causes this work force to function out here [on] this concept of community policing.
Ultimately, according to many PPB managers, this job translates into creating viable teams to focus on problem-solving at the neighborhood level. In other words, it means creating street-level teams that feel sufficient support from their supervisors that they are willing to take risks.
Consequently, managerial practice and administrative systems are a delicate balancing act in the PPB, as they must be in all community police departments. On the one hand, the Bureau outlines a clear imperative to follow the guidelines set out by plan and verified by evaluations; but on the other hand, it must rely on managers to encourage their troops to use discretion and push the envelope of existing strategies.
1 This account is based on some two dozen interviews (four outside the department); extensive documentation and news reports; and observation of patrol operations, management, and community meetings.
2 See the discussion in Charles Moose. The Theory and Practice of Community Policing: An Evaluation of the Iris Court Demonstration Project. Ph.D. Dissertation, Portland State University, 1993; pp. 66-67.
3 Moose, Theory and Practice of Community Policing, pp. 66-67. Moose reports that the patrol officers union subsequently tried to abolish PIIAC by raising the issue in a general election. But though they were successful in getting PIIAC on the ballot, the union ultimately lost the vote.
4 See, for example, the judgment of PIIACs past reported by members themselves in David Anderson. City Reverses Police Bureau in Citizen Complaint, The Oregonian, May 25, 1996, p. D-1.
5 Moose, Theory and Practice of Community Policing, p. 67.; David M. Kennedy. Patrol Allocation in Portland, Oregon (A): PCAM in the Bureau. Case no. C15-88-818.0. Cambridge, Mass.: Case Program of John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1988; p. 12.
6 Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (A), p. 17.
7 David M. Kennedy. Patrol Allocation in Portland, Oregon (B): PCAM in the City, Case no. C15-88-819.0. Cambridge, Mass.: Case Program of John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1988.
8 Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (A), pp. 4, 8.
9 Moose. Theory and Practice of Community Policing, pp. 61-63.
10 This latter point is a main theme of Moose, Theory and Practice of Community Policing, ch. 4.
11 Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (B), p. 1; and Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (A), 16-17. A city performance audit challenged the 47% figure, asserting that the real number was 43%. The dispute was never resolved, but either way, time spent on 911 calls was clearly high in Portland. See Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (B), p. 4.
12 Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (A), p. 17.
13 Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (A), p. 12.
14 Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (A), p. 12.
15 Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (A), p. 12-13.
16 Cited in Moose, Theory and Practice of Community Policing, p. 62.
17 See, for example, the discussion in Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (A).
18 As reported in Moose, Theory and Practice of Community Policing, pp. 63-65.
19 As summarized in Michael Rollins, Police Lack Direction, Audit Says, The Oregonian, January 31, 1990.
20 Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (A), pp. 5-6.
21 As reported in Holley Gilbert, Chief Praises Police Audit in Report to Mayor, The Oregonian, April 7, 1990. One gets a similar impression of decisionmaking in the PPB (at least in patrol allocation) from Kennedys Patrol Allocation in Portland (A), written in 1988 (esp. pp. 3,5,6).
22 Kennedy, Patrol Allocation in Portland (A), p. 12; cf. Moose, Theory and Practice of Community Policing, pp. 67-8.
23 United Press International, wire report, July 13, 1985; see also UPI, Jail Overcrowding is Nuts, Chief Says, wire report, May 8, 1985.
24 Moose writes that a common problem surrounding Mayor Clark and community policing is that he was not clear on how to articulate his goal, at least in the early days of his tenure. See Moose, Theory and Practice of Community Policing, p. 70.
25 Moose, Theory and Practice of Community Policing, p. 72.
26 For example, Walker, like Harrington before him, responded to news of rising crime rates by blaming the jail problem, without reference to possible alternatives. United Press International, wire report, October 15, 1987
27 Moose, Theory and Practice of Community Policing, p. 69.
28 Moose, Theory and Practice of Community Policing, pp. 69-70.
29 Specifically, Potters Community Policing Working Group was joined by committees focused on the criminal justice system, training and recruitment, demonstration projects, evaluation, grants and finance, information and referral, legal issues and legislation, media and education, productivity and workload, organizational transition, and the community policing menu (i.e., research on nationwide initiatives that Portland might learn from). These groups were joined by advisory groups made up of academics, police practitioners from other departments, and the PPBs own employees (specifically, separate advisory committees represented command staff, investigations, patrol officers, supervisors, and civilians).
30 Portland Police Bureau. Community Policing Transition Plan. Portland: Author, 1990, p. 7; emphasis added.
31 The surveys were developed in large part from a $366,000 grant from the National Institute of Justice to develop performance measures for community policing, with collaboration from a team of Portland State researchers.
32 As reported in Michael Rollins and Sarah Carlin Ames. Police Chief Retiring, Tom Potter to Take Over, The Oregonian, October 24, 1990, p. A-1.
33 Michael Rollins, Police Chief Potter tabs Inman as Assistant, The Oregonian, November 10, 1990, p. E-1.
34 Michael Rollins and Barnes C. Ellis. Wanted: New Portland Police Chief, The Oregonian, March 11, 1993, p. A-16.
35 Michael Rollins and Barnes C. Ellis. Potter Denies Pressure to Quit, The Oregonian, March 11, 1993, p. A-1. See the similar comments of other public officials in Michael Rollins and Barnes C. Ellis. Potter to Announce Hes Retiring, The Oregonian, March 10, 1993, p. A-1.
36 McCormack candidly admits that a very concrete incentive helped motivate ONAs extensive involvement with community policing: There was some self-interest on the part of neighborhoods [i.e., ONA] on that too. Because [our involvement] also said, You need to keep funding us because were one of the partners in this whole effort. . . . As Council saw more examples of community policing working and being more efficient and more long-lasting, [then] as City Bureaus were preparing their budgets, they were asked, What are you doing thats community policing? . . . Bureaus that could say that they were doing that had much better luck in getting their budgets passed.
37 Portland City Council, Resolution # 34857, July 5, 1989. The definition reads Community Policing is based on a philosophy which recognizes the interdependence and shared responsibility of the police and community in making Portland a safer, more livable city. It is a method of policing which encourages a partnership that identifies community safety issues, determines resources, and applies innovative strategies designed to create and sustain healthy, vital neighborhoods. Community Policing will coordinate with efforts being made by private, nonprofit, and public agencies to bring a comprehensive approach to Portlands problems of crime and disorder. Community Policing reflects the values of: Community participation, problem solving, officer involvement in decision-making; police accountability, and deployment of police personnel at a level closer to the neighborhood.
38 Michael Rollins. Forums Help Police Relate to Portland, October 14, 1991, p. C-1.
39 William S. Taylor. Potter Leaves Bureau with Many Problems, March 26, 1993, p. C11. Taylor was a retired PPB captain who felt that Potter had failed to build internal support for some of the reasons I will mention, and who felt that he had not increased the number of officers sufficiently.
40 Sara Rubenstein. Potter Recruits New Officers on Cable Show, The Oregonian, January 11, 1993, p. B-3.
41 The validation essentially correlated exam scores with a number of success variables, including training academy standings and ratings of the recruits performance (by both peers and supervisors) as police officers when they reached the street.
42 Michael Rollins, New era of community policing looms for Portland force, The Oregonian, September 30, 1990, p. C12. Part of the reason for the pretest was based on another overriding personnel goal: The city wanted to make sure that the new test did not suffer from cultural bias.
43 Instituting this requirement was itself a process of negotiation that required buy-off from the mayor, the community, and the police union. The union, in particular, initially raised concerns that it would be difficult to find recruits with this stringent requirement. But Prunk and others emphasized that the PPB had always had educational requirements, and that 60% of new recruits already had college degreesthereby reframing the change as one of degree, rather than kind. And the union found more reason to support the change when it was pointed out that the higher qualifications might, down the road, provide a good argument for pay increases.
44 Michael Rollins, Police Union Says Bureau Hiring Plan Is Unfair to White Men, The Oregonian, February 20, 1990.
45 John Painter, Jr. Police Seek to Recruit More Blacks, The Oregonian, January 5, 1994, p. C-4.
46 The plan itself reminds its readers of this flexibility at the bottom of every page of strategies with the words Note: These strategies are a starting place. As studies are undertaken some strategies will be replaced or deleted as others are found to be more feasible.
47 One of the most important of these demonstration projects was at the Iris Court housing development, described in Moose, Theory and Practice of Community Policing.
48 The latter grant, which was a partnership between the Bureau and researchers from Portland State University, came from NIJ research funds, while the other two were part of BJAs Innovative Neighborhood-Oriented Policing (INOP) demonstration grants, given to 13 cities around the country to develop new ideas in community policing.
49 The grant also included a small amount of equipment to be used for training officers to use the new systems, and funding for the development of an unrelated patrol deployment program.
50 In explaining the need to civilianize the front-desk positions, Portlands grant application states that the quality of information and referral services provided to citizens differs from shift to shift and precinct to precinct. A citizen survey found the lowest rated point of contact with the Police Bureau was calling the police precinct.
51 The PPB recently applied for funding under the COPS offices Advancing Community Policing program in order to develop a dial-and-deliver system that would allow the city to easily contact residents of particular areas (for example, in the case of an emergency). The Bureau reportedly pursued the grant on Mayor Katzs suggestion; Katz had reportedly seen a need for such a system during the recent wave of flooding Portland had experienced, though the system could be used for other purposes as well (like evacuations of an area during hostage situations). The Bureau had not yet heard back on the application at the time of my site visit.
52 Fred Leeson, Audit of Police Bureau Shows Room for Improvement, The Oregonian, February 23, 1994, p. B-8. More critical outside intervention brought a similar response: For example, when city council overturned an internal affairs ruling for the first time, Moose acceded to their decision, publicly stating that the Bureau had made a mistake. See David Anderson. City Reverses Police Bureau in Citizen Complaint, The Oregonian, May 25, 1996, p. D-1.
53 This schism between street cops and management cops on the matter of political accountability is, of course, not unique to Portland; see Elizabeth Reuss-Ianni. The Two Cultures of Policing. (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1983).
54 To be clear, Browns group and ONA are not antagonistic. McCormack, for example, has collaborated with Brown on a number of projects and appreciates his activism, even if she disagrees with him on some issues, like how much regulation citizen patrols need. And the coalition offices located where most of Hope and Hard Works participants live have begun to participate actively in many of the meetings; one reportedly agreed that its fine that people have another outlet for their concerns. At the same time, McCormack points out that while she believes it is important for ONA staff to attend Hope and Hard Work meetings when possible, they must also respond to invitations from other neighborhood groups.
55 Moose expressed similar sentiments publicly in an Oregonian op-ed piece. See Charles Moose, Police Bureau Will Make Best of Measure 47 Situation, The Oregonian, February 13, 1997, p. 2.
56 In a case of escalating legalism, a judge recently threw out all the PPBs trespass agreements on the grounds that they were not notarized. One interviewee explains: The law doesnt require any partnership agreements or anything. We created the form to transfer the authority to the Police Bureau. . . . [But] now well have to go back and well have to have some clerical personnel get notary licenses, and well notarize the stuff now.
57 This shift, of course, is precisely what community policing and problem-oriented policing aim for. Herman Goldstein, in particular, has argued that the idea of a criminal justice system has led police astraypolice departments should properly think of themselves as agencies of municipal government. See Herman Goldstein. Policing a Free Society. (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger, 1977); Herman Goldstein. Problem-Oriented Policing. (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 1990).
58 In doing so it earned the censure of the Oregonian, which ran an editorial after city council officially adopted the plan. See Portland is Not an Island, The Oregonian, October 3, 1996, p. E-10.
59 David Anderson, Overflowing County Jails Turn Away Prisoners, The Oregonian, February 11, 1997, p. A-1.
60 Less Drive-By Policing, The Oregonian, March 7, 1994, p. B-6.
61 One precinct also chose to create its own drug unit for investigating neighborhood drug problems. The unit was reportedly quite effective, but organizationally, it found itself on the defensive from the start. The unit was eliminated in the recent round of budget cuts that followed Measure 47.
62 Annette Jolin and Charles Moose. Evaluating a Domestic Violence Program in a Community Policing Environment: Research Implementation Issues, in Crime and Delinquency, vol. 43 (1997), pp. 279-297. The quotations below are from p. 294.