Under the rug

I saw the other day that the Portland police review board, which is being replaced as ineffective, has let off the hook seven Portland police officers who were involved in the false arrest of Michael Fesser at the behest of bad cops in West Linn. The Portland Independent Police Review committee exonerated six officers, and found there wasn't enough evidence to pusrue disciplinary action against a seventh.

The committee's full report is here. The basic thrust is that if the police in another city tell the Portland cops that there is probable cause to arrest someone, the Portland police can and will rely on the other agency's representation to that effect.

What's weird about the Fesser case is that alleged theft that Fesser was being busted for supposedly took place in southeast Portland. Why was the West Linn police department involved in the first place? Apparently, the Portland cops didn't ask.

[Portland] Sgt. [Kenneth] Duilio indicated WLPD officers told him they had probable cause to arrest Mr. Fesser, and he had no reason to doubt the information. This investigation found no indication Sgt. Duilio received any information which suggested WLPD’s assertion it had probable cause was improper. Further, Sgt. Duilio’s assistance based on the word of WLPD personnel was consistent with PPB practices regarding assisting other agencies, and was consistent with the applicable statute, ORS 133.310.

However, Sgt. Duilio’s statement that he could not recall whether he knew why WLPD was investigating a crime said to have occurred in Portland may suggest his decision to assist WLPD in arresting Mr. Fesser was not as carefully considered as it could have been. Additionally, although Sgt. Dulio indicated [West Linn] Det. [Tony] Reeves did not disclose any concerning information to him, because IPR lacks the jurisdiction to interview Det. Reeves it was not possible to fully evaluate Sgt. Dulio’s description of his contact with Det. Reeves.

The board's action will probably put the matter to rest in Portland, but it shows how weak the current police supervision system is. Maybe the new system, if it ever gets here, will be able to get answers to the hard yet obvious questions that currently float away unresolved.