US Attorney General to visit Portland on 6-city trip to highligh - KPTV - FOX 12

US Attorney General to visit Portland on 6-city trip to highlight police work

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV/AP) -

Attorney General Loretta Lynch plans to visit six cities, including Portland, to highlight police departments she sees as role models for law enforcement.

The locations were chosen because they embody a particular trait of successful policing, such as effective use of data, strong community relationships or a commitment to officer safety, Lynch said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press.

The first visit is planned for Thursday and Friday to Miami-Dade County in Florida, where Lynch will praise the Doral police department for its community policing strategies. She'll also host a youth town hall and a community policing discussion in Miami.

The other locations are Portland, Oregon; Indianapolis; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Phoenix and Los Angeles.

"It really is our hope to highlight the areas where police and community members are sitting down together and figuring out, 'How do we all make this work?'" she said.

Last month, the Portland Police Association released the results of a survey that found 96 percent of officers and staff who responded rated the overall morale in the Portland Police Bureau as poor or below average.

Association President Daryl Turner described the bureau as "broken."

Mayor Charlie Hales issued a response saying the bureau is in a "transformational era" with a need for someone who will "advocate for change."

"I picked Larry O'Dea as chief of police because he's a change agent. When you make change, you make waves," Hales said in a statement. 

Lynch, a former federal prosecutor in New York, has already visited places whose police forces are considered to have troubled community relations.

Now, the focus turns to departments succeeding in implementing "pillars" of policing identified in a White House report last May. Each city on the tour represents a different pillar, which include building community trust, community policing, crime reduction and officer training and education.

"I'm going to jurisdictions where departments have taken those pillars, have made substantial and concrete advances toward them and where we're seeing positive results," Lynch said, adding that she hopes they can be guideposts for departments looking to improve.

The policing initiative is part of a national discussion on effective tactics, a topic that's taken on new urgency amid a series of high-profile police shootings of unarmed young men in places including Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland; and North Charleston, South Carolina.

That conversation has often been "painful on many fronts," Lynch said. But, she said, she's been encouraged by the number of police departments looking to evolve on training and tactics and to improve cooperation with the Justice Department, which has the authority to investigate troubled departments and press for sweeping overhauls.

"In my first incarnation as U.S. Attorney when we dealt with these issues, every situation was adversarial, every situation was generally confrontational," Lynch said. "Now we're at a point where we have police departments reaching out to us for assistance."

In Ferguson, city officials are preparing for a vote on a proposed settlement with the Justice Department that could lead to extensive changes in police policies, training and practices. The Justice Department would have the option of suing Ferguson if it rejects the deal. The attorney general said she hopes it won't come to that.

"We think that the agreement that's been presented to the city of Ferguson is comprehensive, it's thorough, it's fair and it effectively addresses the problems that we outlined so many months ago," Lynch said. "We hope that they will vote on it expeditiously and that we can move forward and avoid litigation."

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation contributed to this report. 

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