Tuesday, October 9, 2007

SRs, Sisters and WRAP announce PPI recommendations

Press Release: 10/8/07

Street Roots, Sisters Of The Road, and the Western Regional Advocacy Project are announcing recommendations for the Portland Patrol Inc., a private security group charged with enforcing public policy in Portland, Oregon. Since November of 2006 the private company has excluded 1,444 individual from public parks with no government scrutiny.

Below are the following recommendations to the City of Portland.

Letter to Mayor and Commissioners:

Dear Mayor and Commissioners,

Oversight and accountability for the private security guards that are enforcing public policies of the City of Portland are of great concern to our organizations. These concerns are motivated and informed by the experiences of homeless people with whom we work and advocate. We believe that many if not most security guards carry out their duties responsibly and do not intend to harm or target homeless people. But we also believe that oversight is crucial to ensure that individuals’ rights are protected and that the public remains safe – and that the current system is deficient in this regard. Therefore, we ask you to support and help implement several strategies that would assure greater oversight and accountability, and, we believe, ultimately make the City of Portland safer for all residents and visitors, especially the most vulnerable and disenfranchised.

Our recommendations are as follows:

• Individuals who experience problems with Portland Patrol should have clear recourse for their grievances, and at least one chance to appeal any negative decision. The grievance and appeal(s) should go through a line of authority that includes the City of Portland. The grievance and appeal processes should be straightforward, unbiased, and uncomplicated. Even if grievances are unable to be substantiated, they should be tracked so that any patterns can be identified and investigated.

• Private security guards who enforce public policies and laws should be accurately and thoroughly trained on those policies and laws. The content of the training, and the protocols or standard operating procedures (SOP), should be made available to the public. All trainings should include an individual experiencing homelessness, a social service provider, and an attorney either from Legal Aid or the Public Defender.

• Private security guards should wear different uniforms that clearly identify them as a separate entity from the Portland Police Bureau.

• Private security guards who enforce public policies and laws should not carry guns, detain people, or search personal property.

• The decision to allow private security guards to issue exclusions in parks should be revisited. Currently, Portland Patrol is issuing hundreds of park exclusions every month with no public oversight or clear recourse for complaints. If private guards are allowed to enforce public policy and restrict individuals’ right to be present in parks, then at minimum a public official should be reviewing every exclusion to ensure that it complies with basic due process requirements.

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