Portland Police Refuses to Disclose Any Disciplinary Records of Top Brass

At the beginning June, 2020, it became apparent that the public needed to know more about the history of abuses by Portland Police officers. To that end, I filed a public records request seeking:

"Please provide copies of all disciplinary records for every individual at the Portland Police Bureau who holds a rank of Captain or higher whether or not a given matter resulted in discipline."
ā€” June 9 request to the City of Portland (S136227-060920)

On September 24 (far beyond the 15-day statutory deadline), the City required a 50% deposit on an estimate of $2124.32 in order to proceed with pulling the disciplinary records of the 17 highest-ranking members of staff. Once the deposit was paid, the records were supposed to be available within 15 business days.

The City may be the custodian of at least some of the requested public records and the estimated fees are $2,124.32.  15 business days after the deposit is paid, the records will be ready. However, they will not be provided until the final amount is paid.  If the final amount incurred is less than the estimate, you will only be charged actual costs.  If the work significantly exceeds the estimate, the City will contact you with a new estimate. Chief-waived 17 staff at @124.96 each = $2,124.32 Deposit is $1,062.16   To confirm, we are searching the following locations:  of these individuals: for the following search terms:  and date range:  to .  If this search is incorrect or you would like to make any changes, please notify us immediately.  If you do not make changes, paying the estimate is confirmation of these proposed search parameters.   By paying the 50% deposit, you are confirming this estimate and agreeing to pay the cost of fulfilling this public records request according to the conditions set forth by the City.  The costs may include the cost of locating records, reviewing records to redact exempt material, supervising the inspection of records, copying records, certifying records and mailing records, including the cost of searching for records.  We will not be working on your request until we receive the 50% deposit.

With some wonderful help from my friends (thank you!), I quickly paid the ransom to try to get this information out while it would still have an impact on the budget process.

Today, over a month after I made the payment, I received a response from the City of Portland.

They did not give the public a single disciplinary record!

The public records requested are exempt from disclosure and will not be provided. PPB balanced the public interest in disclosure against the other interests protected by non-disclosure. After this balancing, the City asserts the following exemptions to disclosure: ORS 192.345(12) personnel discipline ORS 181A.830(3): personnel investigation of a public safety employee which does not result in discipline One employee, Assistant Chief Frome, provided written consent for his records, which are not discipline, to be released. Those records are available in GovQA. The final cost for this request was $828.29. PPB decide to waive $124.96 (search for Chief Lovell's records as previously stated-not included in final cost). PPB is therefore refunding $263.87. The City now considers your request fulfilled and it will be closed. Please note, messages sent on closed requests will not be monitored. Ability to Appeal: If you were denied the right to inspect or to receive a copy of any public record of the City of Portland you may seek review of the public body's determination pursuant to ORS 192.411, 192.415, 192.418, 192.422, 192.427 and 192.431. Tammi WeissPublic Records Supervisor (She/her)503-823-9751

I have filed an appeal with the Multnomah District Attorney. Hopefully, Mike Schmidt will feel a stronger sense of the public's entitlement to this information than the PPB.

Alan Lloyd Kessler's Picture

About Alan Lloyd Kessler

Attorney in Portland, Oregon focused on public records and civil litigation. Passionate about government transparency, abundant housing, and active transportation.

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