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Cripa Portland Me Investigation Findings 3-21-03

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U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division

Special Litigation Section - PHB
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530

March 21, 2003

Mr. Gary Wood
Corporation Counsel
City of Portland
389 Congress Street
Portland, ME 04101
Re:

Investigation of the Portland, Maine Police Department

Dear Mr. Wood:
As you know, the Civil Rights Division is conducting a
pattern or practice investigation of the Portland Police
Department, pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law
Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141. In January 2002,
Police Chief Michael Chitwood sent the Division a letter
requesting a thorough investigation of the police department’s
policies and practices. As an initial matter, we would like to
thank you, Chief Chitwood, former Mayor Karen Geraghty, City
Manager Joseph Gray, and the men and women of the Portland Police
Department (PPD) for the considerable cooperation and assistance
we have received since the beginning of our investigation. We
appreciate the City’s commitment to improving police practices in
Portland, and we commend the PPD’s willingness to review,
analyze, and revise its policies and procedures where needed.
In addition, we recognize that the PPD has planned and begun
to implement significant organizational changes within its
department. Many of these changes, like the department’s
10-point plan to increase supervisory accountability and review
of police practices and procedures, are positive ones, and we are
hopeful that PPD practices will continue to improve as our
investigation progresses. We have reviewed the PPD’s plans for
these changes in conjunction with our investigation, and, at
several points in this letter, we offer recommendations for
building upon these reform efforts.

- 2 ­


Since our investigation began last year, we have reviewed a
significant number of documents relating to the management,
service, and operation functions of the PPD. In addition, we
have interviewed dozens of city officials, community advocates,
and PPD officers, including high-ranking command staff. We have
also spoken to representatives of the police unions in Portland,
notably the Portland Superior Officers Association (PSOA) and the
Portland Police Benevolent Association (PBA), and met with
concerned Portland citizens. Based upon our interviews and our
preliminary review of PPD documents, we have identified several
areas of concern. These areas of concern are set forth in this
letter, along with our recommendations for addressing those
concerns.
Although we have made substantial progress in our
investigation, important aspects of our fact-gathering process
have yet to be completed, most notably completing our review of
PPD Internal Affairs investigative files, Use of Control reports,
and public order arrest reports. Therefore, this letter is not
meant to be exhaustive, but rather focuses on significant
concerns we have identified based on our review of the PPD’s
policies and procedures.
The issues identified below focus on the following areas:
use of force, use of force reporting and review, searches and
seizures, complaints and investigations, early warning systems,
training, and organizational concerns. Please note that this
letter is preliminary in nature and does not cover all aspects of
our investigation. We will identify additional issues and
provide additional recommendations to you as our investigation
progresses.
I.	

USE OF FORCE POLICY

•	

The PPD should revise its policies to clarify actions that
constitute a use of force and to ensure that deadly force is
only used in appropriate circumstances.
A.	

Non-deadly Force

PPD’s use of force policy does not provide a comprehensive
list of actions that are considered uses of force. Although
there are various sections in the policy that discuss an

- 3 -

officer’s response to a suspect’s actions, there is no central
section that specifically describes the types of actions that can
constitute force. In addition, the sections that discuss officer
responses fail to mention uses of force such as takedowns and the
pointing of a weapon at someone by an officer (even though
“direct[ing] and aim[ing]” a firearm is listed as a reportable
use of control elsewhere in the SOPs). Because PPD officers
should be fully informed of the actions that may constitute a use
of force, we recommend that the PPD’s use of force policy include
a provision that provides clear examples of the types of actions
that may be considered force, including physical force. These
examples should include actions such as takedowns and firearm
brandishing. In addition, we recommend that PPD’s use of force
policy identify any uses of force that are prohibited or
restricted to limited circumstances (e.g., choke holds).
B.

Deadly Force

PPD's deadly force policy defines deadly force as “physical
force that a person uses with the intent of causing, or which he
knows to create a substantial risk of causing, death or serious
bodily injury.” SOP 1 III. A. Thus, under PPD policy, if a PPD
officer does not intend or know that his actions may cause death
or serious injury to a person, his actions apparently would not
fall within the category of deadly force. Case law and policies
regarding deadly force generally do not consider the officer's
state of mind.1 For example, the International Association of
Chiefs of Police (IACP) model policy defines deadly force as “any
use of force that is likely to cause death or serious bodily
harm.”2 PPD’s subjective definition of deadly force creates a
concern that PPD officers may be using deadly force in situations
where only non-deadly force is warranted.
PPD’s deadly force policy also does not identify strikes to
the head with impact weapons as a use of deadly force.
See SOP 1 VI. E. Due to the possibility of death or serious
injury from the delivery of strikes or blows to the head, we
1

See Graham v.
question is whether the
reasonable’ in light of
them, without regard to
2

Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 397 (1989) (“[T]he
officers’ actions are ‘objectively
the facts and circumstances confronting
their underlying intent or motivation.”).

IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center,
“A Compilation of Model Policies, Volume I.”

- 4 ­

recommend that PPD’s policy be revised to reflect the potential
deadliness of such uses of force.
•	

The PPD should fully develop a use of force continuum.

We were informed during our interviews with PPD command
staff that the PPD utilizes a use of force continuum. Based on
our review of the department’s SOPs, it appears that the PPD
considers the basic guidelines in SOP 1 VI. C to constitute such
a continuum. While these guidelines for an officer’s response to
a subject’s actions are useful as a starting point, additional
detail and specificity are needed to determine appropriate
officer responses to the actions of the subject. Thus, we
recommend that the PPD expand these guidelines into a complete
use of force continuum. When properly designed and implemented,
a use of force continuum is a fluid and flexible policy guide.
Many major city police departments employ a use of force
continuum because it provides a useful tool in training officers
to consider lower levels of force first, which protects the
safety of both the officer and the civilian. Moreover, a full
use of force continuum would emphasize that officers’ presence,
verbal commands, and use of "soft-hands" (using hands to escort
rather than control subjects) can often be effective alternatives
to more significant uses of force. We would be happy to provide
examples of use of force continuums upon request.
•	

The PPD should include its “find and bark” policy in its
SOPs and eliminate undefined terms from its canine policy.
It should also provide more guidance to its officers
regarding when canines are to be deployed.

PPD’s canine policy does not specify whether it has a "find
and bite" policy (which allows dogs to bite upon locating the
subject) or a "find and bark" policy (requiring a dog to bark,
rather than bite). According to canine unit supervisors, the
PPD’s policy is "find and bark." We recommend that the PPD
explicitly state in its SOPs that it has adopted a find and bark
policy. A find and bark policy usually prevents canines from
biting subjects in situations in which such force is not
necessary to effect an arrest or protect the safety of officers
or civilians.
Although PPD’s canine policy requires officers to announce
during building searches that a canine is about to be deployed,
the policy does not require that officers allow the suspect time

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to respond to the announcement before the canine is released from
its leash. In addition, the PPD’s canine policy does not address
the tracking of suspects or missing persons. We recommend that
the PPD revise its policy to allow a sufficient interval between
the announcement and deployment for subject surrender, absent
exigent circumstances. We also recommend that the PPD’s canine
policy specify the procedures to be followed when tracking
suspects or missing persons, and emphasize in its policy that
during these searches, the canine should remain on a leash in
order to provide a measure of safety to the person being
searched.
II.	 USE OF FORCE REPORTING AND REVIEW
•	

The PPD should revise its use of force reporting forms to
clarify terms and to ensure that all uses of force are
reported.

PPD utilizes a Use of Control report to document uses of
force by PPD officers. Under PPD policy, the Use of Control
report must be completed whenever an officer uses physical or
deadly force. See SOP 1 VI. G. The one-page Use of Control
report requires officers to list pertinent information about the
subject of the use of force, witnesses (including officers), the
officers involved in the incident, and supply a short narrative
about the incident. The report also contains check boxes that
require officers to indicate the type of force used in a
particular incident and the reason the force was used.
The check boxes listed on the Use of Control report mostly
document general categories of force (e.g., “hands,” “feet,”).
Although the specific type of force utilized can be determined by
reading the officer’s narrative on the back of the Use of Control
report, each year the Internal Affairs Unit compiles a report
summarizing the types of force used based on the use of force
check boxes. Because the information contained in the boxes are
crucial to PPD review and analysis of the types and number of use
of force incidents PPD officers are involved in each year, we
recommend that the PPD revise these boxes to clearly indicate the
type of force used in each incident. This change will allow the
PPD to better track and identify force patterns through analysis
of specific uses of force such as defensive tactics or punches,
as opposed to general force concepts such as “hands” control.
In addition, during our interviews with PPD command staff we

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were informed that officers are not required to report
“restraining force” or certain other types of physical contacts
with citizens such as takedowns. We recommend that the PPD
require officers to report all physical acts that impose any
degree of force greater than unresisted handcuffing, including
takedowns and “restraining force.” This would ensure that all
uses of force are reported and analyzed.
•	

The PPD should adopt a policy requiring all officers,
including witnessing officers, to promptly report uses of
force.

In our interviews with PPD command staff we were informed
that all officers who engage in or witness a use of force must
complete a Use of Control report. However, the requirement that
witnessing officers must complete a Use of Control report is not
included in PPD policy. To ensure that witnessing officers are
fully aware of the command staff’s expectation that they will
separately complete a Use of Control report, we recommend that
PPD policy clearly set forth the PPD’s requirements for officers
who witness force incidents.
•	

The PPD should investigate all uses of force.

According to our interviews with PPD command staff, once an
officer completes a Use of Control report, a supervisory officer
(usually the officer’s immediate supervisor) reviews the report
for accuracy and attaches a supplemental paragraph detailing his
assessment of the incident. The Use of Control report is then
forwarded to the officer’s Shift Commander, who makes an initial
determination regarding the appropriateness of the force used.
Next, the report is reviewed by the chain of command, including
the Chief of Police.3 The Chief of Police makes a final
determination regarding the force used. Finally, the Use of
Control report is forwarded to PPD’s Internal Affairs Unit for
filing and further analysis. See SOP 1 VI. G. 9. Although the
3

Although officers within the chain of command are
authorized to order an immediate investigation into questionable
use of force incidents, usually, in reviewing the Use of Control
report, the chain of command only makes a recommendation as to
whether the force incident should be investigated. The final
determination regarding the force used and any request for a
subsequent Internal Affairs investigation is typically made by
the Chief.

- 7 ­

supervisory officer may question the officer about the force
used, we were informed by PPD command staff that the supervisory
officer typically does not interview or take statements from
external witnesses regarding the incident.
Due to the importance of identifying and tracking force
issues within the department, use of force incidents should be
fully investigated by the supervisory officer. The supervisory
officer should interview both the officer involved in the
incident and any witnessing officers. The supervisory officer
should also interview the subject of the alleged force. A full
investigation of all uses of force is recommended for several
reasons. First, it ensures that the PPD has the relevant
information needed to determine the propriety of all uses of
force. In addition, a detailed investigation allows higher
ranking staff to review a complete investigative report and
determine whether any issues were overlooked by the supervisory
officer. The current format, with its limited investigative
information, encourages command staff to “rubber-stamp” the
supervisory officer’s determinations instead of independently
assessing the propriety of the officer’s conduct. Finally, full
use of force investigations are necessary because the current
system of force reporting has not proven effective in tracking
force issues within the department. During our interviews, PPD
staff and plaintiffs’ attorneys informed us that a number of uses
of force that eventually resulted in lawsuits never triggered
internal investigations, thus implying that the Use of Control
reports are not being scrutinized properly.
The PPD has created a Use of Force Review Committee to
review and analyze all Use of Control reports that have been
reviewed by the Chief and subsequently filed with the Internal
Affairs Unit. However, according to PPD policy, the committee
only meets “periodically” to review Use of Control reports. In
addition, we were informed by PPD command staff that the
committee meetings are very informal and that the committee has
not established any criteria or guidelines to govern the review
of the reports.
III. SEARCHES AND SEIZURES
•	

The PPD should revise its search and seizure policy to
require mandatory reporting of certain categories of field
stops.

- 8 ­

Under PPD policy, an officer may complete a field interview
card whenever the officer stops a suspicious person, completes a
field contact, field stop, or stop and frisk, or comes in contact
with a known offender. See SOP 41 V. C. 4. The policy does not
require the officer to complete the field interview card, but
allows the officer to use discretion as to whether a card should
be completed for a particular incident. The field interview card
captures the following information: officer name and badge
number; date, time, and location of the stop; a general
description of the person involved in the stop; the reason for
the stop; identifying information about the vehicle involved in
the stop; and the signatures of the officer and immediate
supervisor.
Once completed, the cards are recorded in a field interview
database prepared by the department. Id. The database is then
made “available” to the department’s Patrol and Detective
Divisions. Id. The policy does not describe how often or under
what circumstances the database is reviewed by Patrol and
Detective officers, nor does it indicate exactly how the database
is to be utilized.
We recommend that PPD adopt a consistent policy that
specifies when officers are required to complete field interview
cards. Such reports should be required at least for all stops
that result in searches and any other intrusive field activities
such as high risk vehicle stop procedures, and are not the
subject of another police report. The cards should capture
information about whether a search or frisk of the subject
occurred, and if so, whether any weapons, evidence, or contraband
were found; and whether the individual involved in the stop was
warned or cited, and if so, the charges. This would enable the
PPD to obtain a more accurate picture of the department’s patrol
activities. In addition, we recommend that Patrol Division
sergeants and lieutenants regularly review the field interview
cards of subordinate officers to ensure that field activities are
being reported as required and documented properly. Finally, we
recommend that the Patrol Division captain conduct monthly audits
of the information contained in the field interview database to
determine if the stops, and any frisks or searches performed,
were lawful, and that the findings of this audit is shared with
the training sergeant and Internal Affairs. These procedures
would help to ensure that improper or discriminatory searches and
seizures are addressed through appropriate corrective action and
discipline.

- 9 ­

IV.	 COMPLAINTS AND INVESTIGATIONS
•	

The PPD should clarify the distinction between formal and
informal complaints and create a uniform system for
investigating all complaints.

Under PPD policy, administrative complaints regarding
possible officer misconduct are investigated either formally or
informally. See SOP 52 V. Complaints are classified as “formal”
and investigated by the department’s Internal Affairs Unit if,
among other things, the complaint alleges a “serious violation of
the Departmental rules, regulations, or procedures.” SOP 52 V.
A. 4. Complaints are classified as “informal” and informally
investigated by a supervisory officer if “the alleged conduct is
not a serious violation of Departmental rules, regulations or
procedures and does not indicate a pattern of repeated
misconduct.” SOP 52 V. B. 2. Although informal complaints are
documented, through our interviews with PPD staff we learned that
the investigation of informal complaints typically consists of a
brief conversation with the involved officer regarding the
alleged conduct.
Formal complaints may result in a imposition of disciplinary
or corrective action against the officer, and with the exception
of oral reprimands, documentation regarding the disciplinary or
corrective action taken is placed in the officer’s file. See SOP
52 X. However, informal complaints, even if meritorious, do not
result in disciplinary action due to their informal nature and
are not included in the officer’s file. See SOP 52 XIII.
The PPD’s current complaint system raises concerns because
the policies do not explain what constitutes a “serious”
violation of departmental policies and procedures. As a result,
intake officers are left to make their own subjective
determinations about whether a complaint may constitute a
“serious” violation of PPD policies. This raises concerns not
only about consistency and fairness, but also about potentially
significant misconduct being handled informally.
We recommend that the PPD formally investigate any alleged
conduct that would constitute a violation of PPD policy. This
would ensure that allegations of significant misconduct such as
excessive force or illegal searches and seizures would be
investigated formally, as well as significant policy violations

- 10 ­

such as failing to file a Use of Control report. Complaints
about conduct that would not constitute violations of PPD policy
(such as complaints about the merits of parking tickets) or
requested clarifications of PPD policies and procedures may be
classified as informal and investigated informally so long as
they are documented.
•	

The PPD should change aspects of its complaint process that
have the potential to discourage the filing of complaints
and to impair the effective tracking and resolution of
complaints.

PPD policy states that the on-duty Patrol Shift Commander
(or another supervisory official in the event that the Shift
Commander is unavailable) is primarily responsible for conducting
intake of all administrative complaints, both formal and
informal. See SOP 52 VI. A. Under PPD policy, the Shift
Commander is permitted to turn away complainants who demonstrate
“inappropriate” behavior during the intake process. See SOP 52
VI. B. The policy does not clearly define what constitutes
“inappropriate” behavior, but it indicates that such behavior
could be interpreted as hostile, irrational, or intoxicated
conduct. Id.
We recommend that the PPD discontinue its current policy of
turning away complainants who demonstrate “inappropriate”
behavior. Such a categorization is vague. For example, a person
who is upset about an alleged unlawful search incident may be
deemed “hostile” and asked to leave the department. Persons who
initially are denied the ability to file a complaint are unlikely
to return to the police department later to re-file their
complaint.
The PPD also utilizes a complaint form that encourages
officers to give an assessment of the complainant’s mental state.
On page five of the formal complaint form, officers are asked to
document whether the complainant is coherent, composed,
confrontational, or intoxicated. This encourages PPD officers to
make a subjective determination about the complainant’s mental
state. Such a judgment may intentionally be used to protect an
officer who engaged in misconduct. In addition, capturing such
subjective information may provide the investigating officer with
an opportunity to be dismissive of the complainant. We recommend
that the PPD eliminate its policy of reporting an assessment of
the complainant’s mental state at intake.

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Finally, we recommend that the PPD review all of its
investigative practices to identify any others that may
discourage the filing of citizen complaints or inappropriately
direct people to the informal complaint process and create
policies to address these concerns. We recommend that the PPD
adopt a policy that explicitly prohibits any conduct that would
tend to discourage a citizen from making a complaint and
discipline officers for violating the policy.
•	

Supervisors should receive appropriate training in handling
and adjudicating complaints.

We recommend that all supervisory staff charged with
accepting and investigating complaints be given appropriate
training and guidance from the PPD. Currently, there is one
sergeant working full time in Internal Affairs and one sergeant
working part time. The part time sergeant is currently being
mentored by the full time sergeant and had no prior investigative
training before being assigned to the Internal Affairs Unit. In
addition, it appears that the lieutenants and Shift Commanders
charged with conducting intake and investigating informal
complaints have not received any sort of training or guidance on
complaint investigation. We recommend that all PPD officers
charged with handling citizen complaints, whether conducting
intake or investigating complaints, receive specialized inservice training before beginning intake or investigative
responsibilities. The training should focus on investigative and
interview techniques for formal complaints, including examining
and interrogating witnesses; identifying misconduct even if it is
not specifically named in a citizen complaint; ethics; integrity;
professionalism; the factors to consider when evaluating
complainant or witness credibility; and the appropriate burdens
of proof (i.e., preponderance of the evidence). The training
should also clarify the limited circumstances in which informal
complaints are appropriate, and discuss the methods for
investigating those complaints. We note that one potential
resource for the PPD in establishing and improving such training
programs may be the long-standing training and grant programs
operated by other components of the Department of Justice, such
as the Office of Justice Programs. While these programs are
completely separate and independent of the Civil Rights
Division’s investigations, we would be pleased to provide you
with contact information for exploring the availability of such
programs.

- 12 ­

V.	

EARLY WARNING SYSTEMS

•	

The PPD should continue to implement its Early Warning
System and enhance the system’s ability to identify patterns
of problematic officer behavior.

An Early Warning System (EWS) is a relational data system,
usually computerized, for maintaining, integrating, and
retrieving information necessary for effective supervision and
management of a police department and its personnel. A police
department can use EWS data regularly and affirmatively to
promote best professional police practices, accountability and
proactive management; to manage the risk of police misconduct
and potential liability; to evaluate and audit the performance of
officers and units; and to identify, manage, and control at-risk
officers, conduct, and situations.
The PPD has developed a draft policy for an EWS, and has
created a computerized Employee Review System (ERS) based upon
this draft policy. The creation of the ERS is a positive step
towards identifying, assessing, and remedying problematic
behavior within the department. However, in our review of the
PPD’s draft EWS policy we noted several concerns and areas for
improvement. First, the EWS draft policy contains several
sections with lists of documents to be tracked, but does not
include a section that clearly identifies all the information
that will be contained in the EWS. In addition, the draft policy
does not identify the triggers that would lead to an EWS report
being generated on a particular officer. The draft policy only
states that “[r]eports shall be generated whenever an employee
has exceeded the threshold established by the Department.” It
appears that the EWS will use the triggers established in a
number of documents previously sent to us regarding the
department’s 10-point plan.
We recommend that the PPD include a section in its EWS
policy that comprehensively lists the information that will be
contained in the EWS database. In addition, we recommend that
the PPD’s EWS policy clearly identify the type and number of
incidents that will trigger an EWS review.
From our review of the draft policy and related documents,
it appears that the PPD’s EWS contains or will contain
information on formal and informal complaints, Use of Control
reports, handcuffing cards, civil lawsuits and notices of claims,

- 13 ­

sick leave, calls for service, “no complaints,” counseling
reports, and commendations. PPD’s EWS does not contain
information on arrest reports completed by the officer, training
history, referrals for administrative counseling or criminal
arrests or charges lodged against the officer. In addition, it
does not appear that the PPD’s EWS will have a means of accessing
all relevant information for incidents that are the subject of
several reports or investigations.
We recommend that the PPD’s EWS include information on
arrest reports completed by the officer, training history,
referrals for administrative counseling or criminal arrests or
charges lodged against the officer. In addition, we recommend
that the EWS have a method to cross-reference incidents that are
the subject of several reports or investigations.
According to the draft policy and related documents, an EWS
review is triggered whenever an officer has filed three Use of
Control reports in 30 days, five Use of Control reports in 60
days, or 10 Use of Control reports in one year. An EWS review
may also be triggered at the request of the department. Once an
officer has been selected for an EWS review, a report is
generated by Internal Affairs that details all Use of Control
reports, handcuffing forms, formal and informal complaints, calls
for service, sick leave, counseling reports, civil lawsuits,
commendations, and “no complaints” pertaining to the officer
within the past ten years. The officer’s Shift Commander and
immediate supervisor meet to discuss the report and determine if
any corrective action is warranted. The Shift Commander’s and
supervisor’s recommendations are then forwarded through the chain
of command and implemented upon the Chief’s approval. The
effectiveness of the implemented recommendations is determined by
monitoring the officer and drafting written reports on the
officer’s conduct on a monthly basis. Both the supervisory
recommendations and the written monthly reports are included in
the officer’s EWS file.
It appears that the types of incidents that trigger an EWS
review are too narrow, and that the time period is too short to
give supervisors valuable information that, if received early,
could identify potential problem officers before misconduct
actually develops. Furthermore, the EWS report that is generated
as a result of the triggers simply lists officer-related
incidents and fails to provide the reviewing officers with any
context or detailed analysis of the incidents. We recommend that

- 14 ­

the PPD develop additional triggers for the EWS based on other
types of incidents such as complaints or discipline, and that the
PPD lengthen the time period for the accumulation of these
triggers. We also recommend that the PPD consider utilizing peer
reviews of the information contained in the reports by comparing
complaints, use of control reports, and other pertinent
information about a particular officer with similar information
from other officers on the same patrol team, shift, or
geographical patrol areas. In addition, the EWS policy should
provide explicit guidance to supervisory officers reviewing EWS
reports to ensure that patterns of possible misconduct are
identified, analyzed, and addressed properly by command staff.
IV.	 TRAINING
•	

The PPD should provide consistent and effective use of force
and defensive tactics in-service training.

According to PPD policy, the Police Officer Development
Program (POD program) is the primary source of in-service
training for PPD officers. Under the POD program, PPD officers
receive annual training on a number of topic areas. Some of
these areas, such as firearms and less than lethal weapons, are
mandatory courses that officers must be trained on each year.
Other areas, such as use of force and defensive tactics, are
elective courses permitting officer discretion. Although the
mandatory courses remain consistent from year to year, the areas
covered in the elective courses vary at each in-service training.
In 2002, officers were required to take a three hour
in-house course in defensive tactics and, in 2003, officers were
required to attend a course on the same topic lasting one-half
hour. Previously, training in use of force or defensive tactics
was incorporated into other areas. For example, in 2001 received
one hour of training on civil liability and one hour of training
on revisions to the PPD’s SOPs. The instructors incorporated
instruction on use of force and defensive tactics within each of
those training sessions.
We recommend that all officers receive general use of force
and defensive tactics training on a regular, periodic basis. The
training should focus not only on the types of force officers can
use and when officers are legally justified in using such force,
but also on verbal de-escalation and other tactics officers can
use to avoid, or minimize, the use of force. In addition, we

- 15 ­

recommend that such training include an interactive discussion of
past use of force incidents and the appropriateness of the force
used in those incidents. PPD officers also should receive
instruction on the actual application of certain uses of force
such as defensive tactics to ensure that the tactics are being
administered properly. As part of this training, we recommend
that the use of force training include both role playing and use
of simulations.
•	

PPD recruits should institutionalize recent changes in the
field training program.

Under PPD policy, all PPD recruits are required to attend a
12-week basic training program at the Maine Criminal Justice
Academy (MCJA). See SOP 33 IV. A. In addition, PPD SOPs dictate
that the recruits must participate in a five-week field training
program. See SOP 33 IV. B. However, we have been informed that
the field training program recently has been expanded to a
four-phase program that lasts at least ten weeks. Recruits now
receive one week of classroom instruction and nine weeks of field
instruction. Field training officers evaluate recruits daily and
supervisors evaluate recruits each week. The PPD should be
commended for instituting these changes which should provide the
expanded training, supervision, and evaluation necessary for
recruits to obtain a clear sense of the service issues facing
various geographical sections of the City, and to ensure that new
recruits have received a significant amount of guidance and
instruction regarding patrol functions. While the new training
program greatly improves on the five week program, we note that
the PPD has not yet incorporated the new field training regimen
into its Standard Operating Procedures. We recommend that the
PPD finalize and adopt a new policy to ensure continued
implementation of its revised field training program.
•	

The PPD should ensure that officers are fully trained on
departmental policies.

From our interviews with PPD officers and command staff, it
appears that there are significant differences between practices
required by key PPD written policies and the actual practices.
For example, according to PPD policy, Division Commanders are
required to review Use of Control reports and determine whether
the force used was appropriate. See SOP 1 VI. G. 8. During our
interviews, however, we learned that the officer’s Shift
Commanders actually reviews the Use of Control reports and

- 16 ­

determines the propriety of the force used. In addition, during
our interviews we were informed by certain officers that Use of
Control reports must be completed within five days of the force
incident; however, PPD policy dictates that the Use of Control
Report be completed by the end of the officer’s shift. See SOP 1
VI. G. 5.
These conflicting statements from line officers and command
staff regarding PPD policies and procedures, indicate that either
the policies are outdated or officers are unclear on the existing
policy requirements. Currently, PPD policy requires that its
policies and procedures be updated at least once each year, but
there does not appear to be a mechanism to ensure that this
occurs. We recommend that the PPD create a tracking mechanism to
ensure that annual updates occur and that changes in policies
have been communicated throughout the department.
•	

The PPD should ensure that the in-service training program
receives adequate training and fiscal support.

In Fiscal Year 2002, the PPD allocated $30,000 for outside
instructors or training; however, pressed by budgetary concerns,
the budget was eventually reduced to $5,000. A police force of
over 150 sworn officers requires more than a $5,000 budget to
maintain an appropriate in-service training program. We
recommend that the PPD allocate sufficient funds to ensure that
officers and support staff receive adequate training to perform
their duties.
The PPD training supervisor is responsible for the
administration of PPD’s training program. The training
supervisor’s responsibilities include multiple tasks, such as
developing and implementing training programs, scheduling
in-service training, maintaining records on each officer’s
training history, and notifying personnel of required training.
At present, no staff is allocated to assist the training
supervisor with these duties. In addition, the current training
sergeant has received little outside training. We recommend the
allocation of additional personnel to ensure these multiple
functions are executed effectively. We also recommend that the
PPD consider providing the training supervisor and other training
officers with more exposure to outside sources of training in
order to introduce new ideas into the department. Again, as
stated earlier, there are long-standing training and grant
programs operated by other components of the Department of
Justice, such as the Office of Justice Programs, that may be one

- 17 ­

potential resource for the PPD in improving in-service training.
We would be pleased to provide you with contact information for
exploring the availability of such programs.
•	

PPD supervisors and command staff should have more exposure
to the policies, practices, and procedures of other police
departments and training agencies.

From our interviews with PPD staff, it appears that
supervisors and commands staff officers have received limited
exposure to the practices of other police departments. Greater
exposure to the practices and procedures of other departments and
training agencies would provide the PPD with access to new ideas
and innovations. It would also provide a valuable mechanism for
re-evaluation of its policies and practices in light of those
used by other departments.
For example, PPD endorses the concept of “preventive
patrol.” Preventive patrol requires an officer, usually in a
vehicle, to patrol a certain area to detect crime and to seek out
suspicious individuals for questioning. Several studies,
however, have rejected the preventive patrol model as failing in
its goal to prevent crime. A philosophy of problem solving,
incorporated in policies and practices of community policing and
directed patrol in most departments, generally has replaced
preventive patrol.
Exposure to the policies and practices of other departments
could be achieved in many ways. For example, the PPD could send
PPD supervisors and command staff on a more frequent basis to a
greater number and variety of law enforcement conferences and
training schools. The PPD also could seek to establish
relationships in which its officers would train officers in other
departments in exchange for training of PPD officers by officers
from those other departments. The PPD could access local
resources, including universities and colleges, technical
colleges, and business groups, to train its mid-level supervisors
in managements functions and skills. Although financial
constraints are always an issue, many policing institutes and
training agencies offer discounted fees to police officials,
particularly if the PPD offers to host conferences by such
institutions. Further, the PPD could apply for grants to fund
these training opportunities. The PPD should make a concerted
effort to take advantage of cost-effective opportunities and
alternative sources of funding whenever possible.

- 18 ­

VII. ORGANIZATIONAL CONCERNS
•	

The PPD should ensure that patrol officers have full
information about their assigned areas and are supervised
effectively by integrating more aspects of its Community
Affairs Division into its Patrol Division.

PPD police operations are handled primarily by two
divisions: the Patrol Division and the Community Affairs
Division. The Patrol Division consists of four patrol teams,
which are responsible for conducting routine patrol services, and
the Tactical Enforcement Unit, a unit primarily responsible for
providing assistance and support to the patrol team as needed.
The PPD’s Community Affairs Division consists of the Traffic
Unit, which reports and investigates traffic accidents; the
Island Services Unit, which provides police, medical, and fire
fighting services to the citizens of Peaks Island; and the
Community Policing Unit, which provides community-oriented
problem solving services to various areas of the City.
The Community Policing Unit, which is responsible for the
department’s community policing services, is comprised of ten
officers. Five officers are assigned to Community Policing
Centers in various Portland neighborhoods in order to address
criminal activity and law enforcement issues in those areas.
These officers are assisted in their work by Civilian Community
Coordinators, who work out of the Community Policing Centers.
The remaining five officers are assigned to the City of
Portland’s elementary, middle, and high schools. Two sergeants
directly supervise the ten officers in the Community Policing
Unit.
In contrast, officers within the Patrol Division are
responsible for law enforcement in the entire city of Portland.
Shifts in the Patrol Division are based on seniority, and
according to PPD policy, first-line supervisors may supervise up
to fifteen patrol officers at one time. The policy also states
that in emergencies, the supervisory span of control may be
extended to an even larger number of officers.
From our interviews with PPD officers, we learned that there
was little overlap of the Patrol and Community Affairs Division’s
responsibilities, and minimal communication between patrol
officers and community policing officers. For example, although

- 19 ­

the Community Policing Unit covers the same geographic areas as
the Patrol Division, and its duties include assisting patrol
officers with calls for service, we were informed by PPD staff
that such assistance from community policing officers rarely
occurs. In addition, the Community Affairs Division’s monthly
community policing reports, which detail community-based issues
and the measures the Division has taken to address these issues,
are not distributed to rank and file officers within the Patrol
Division.
Because of the lack of communication between the Patrol
Division and Community Policing Unit, patrol officers often are
not aware of the problems or concerns facing a particular
community, even when community policing officers have gathered
the information. Thus, patrol officers appear to rely almost
exclusively on traditional enforcement methods when responding to
a call for service instead of a problem-solving approach. Our
interviews with community advocates indicate that over-reliance
on these traditional enforcement methods leads to
miscommunication and distrust between officers and citizens. In
addition, patrol officers fail to receive the assistance they
need from community policing officers in responding to calls for
service, and patrol supervisors are hampered in their efforts to
provide proper supervision and guidance to rank and file officers
by the large number of officers under their span of control. The
absence of full information, prompt back-up, or appropriate
supervision can lead to officers finding themselves isolated in a
potentially dangerous situation and resorting to more force than
would be necessary. Similarly, these factors may contribute to
an atmosphere of frustration among patrol officers that can
enhance the likelihood of misconduct.
In order to promote effective policing and minimize the
areas in which use of force may be necessary, patrol officers
should be both concerned with enforcement and aware of
neighborhood issues and the problem-solving measures endorsed by
the community. Therefore, we recommend that the PPD integrate
more aspects of its community policing program into its Patrol
Division. Such integration could occur through the consolidation
of the Community Affairs and Patrol Divisions, rotation of
community policing officers into the Patrol Division, or regular
meetings between the Deputy Chief of the Bureau of Operations and
the heads of the two divisions.

- 20 ­

In addition, to ensure that all officers are well informed
of the department’s community policing activities, we recommend
that the PPD incorporate into its policy a directive that
discusses the goals, objectives, and responsibilities of the
Community Policing Unit. We also recommend that the monthly
community policing reports be revised to include a detailed
analysis of any community concerns or problems, an explanation of
the steps that the Community Policing Unit has taken to address
those concerns, and significant feedback from both community
policing officers and the community regarding the effectiveness
of those measures. The community policing reports should also be
reviewed by Patrol Division officers. Finally, we recommend the
reduction of a Patrol supervisor’s maximum span of control from
the current level of fifteen officers to ten officers. This
would enable supervisors to better assess officer conduct and
provide support and guidance where needed.
###
We hope that this letter will assist in our mutual goal of
ensuring that the PPD provides the best possible police service
to the citizens of Portland. We look forward to working with you
and the PPD in the coming months as our investigation proceeds.
Sincerely,

/s/ Shanetta Y. Brown Cutlar

Shanetta Y. Brown Cutlar
Acting Chief
Special Litigation Section
cc:

Beth Poliquin, Esq.

 

 

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