Wheeler pushes for compelled interviews of officers involved in - KPTV - FOX 12

Wheeler pushes for compelled interviews of officers involved in use of deadly force

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Portland Police Bureau (KPTV file image) Portland Police Bureau (KPTV file image)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Mayor Ted Wheeler is pushing for compelled interviews to be conducted within 48 hours for officers who are involved in the use of deadly force.

Wheeler announced Friday he was filing an ordinance to be brought in front of the Portland City Council that will outline investigative procedures to be used in an employment investigation after an officer uses deadly force in the line of duty.

The procedures in the mayor’s ordinance include a compelled interview with the officer within 48 hours of the incident, as well as assurances that the employment investigation can be effectively walled off from the criminal investigation.

The ordinance also calls for a court review to ensure investigations are properly conducted under the Oregon Constitution.

In a statement, Wheeler said he opposes the “48-hour rule,” which prevents compelled interviews of officers over that time frame. 

In March, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office released a memo stating that when a person is compelled to choose between making a statement that may place them in legal jeopardy and some other result, including losing employment, any subsequent criminal case could be dismissed by the court, referencing a 1982 Oregon Supreme Court decision.

The court further stated, according to the district attorney's office, that "it is not possible for the state to erect a wall between the compelled statement and the criminal investigation." 

The mayor’s office said the district attorney’s interpretation was later backed by an Oregon Department of Justice memo, “which acknowledged gray areas in the law remain.”

Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill released a statement Friday saying, in part, "Any statement that indicates that my office intends to reject all cases in which a compelled statement is obtained is incorrect. As has been the practice prior to, and subsequent to, the changes to PPB use of force policy - the District Attorney's Office will continue to review cases involving the use of physical force where a death occurs and present them to the grand jury for review."

Underhill said he supports the city's efforts to have administrative policies and practices reviewed by Oregon court to "get this right." 

In a statement, the mayor’s office said, “Employment investigations are a powerful tool to ensure bad actors are held to account. Criminal prosecutions of officers involved in the use of deadly force are rare, and convictions even more so. However, the City has a responsibility to be mindful of taking any action or implementing any policy which might interfere with the Multnomah County DA's ability to hold a police officer responsible for criminal behavior.”

“Officers who wrongly use deadly force should no longer wear a badge," said Wheeler.

The ordinance will be presented to the City Council on Aug. 3.

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