[pjw] INFO: Input into audit on police intelligence gathering

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Mon May 3 13:28:32 EDT 2021

PJW supporters

The Portland City Auditor's office recently announced they are going to 
conduct an audit of the Portland Police Bureau's intelligence gathering. 
For those who don't know our history, when Peace and Justice Works first 
began and had our very first general (quarterly) meeting, we were visited 
by two undercover individuals who spied on us for promoting an effective 
civilian oversight system.

The Auditor is asking people to send in their own comments at this site:


While we could have addressed more issues, such as license plate
readers, facial recognition and other technologies, this seems like a
good backgrounder for the audit staff to start with. Besides, with
others in the community chiming in (maybe you?) who knows where this
will lead.

We sent this to the Auditor on Friday, and it went to the Copwatch list 
over the weekend, sorry for the delay getting it to you all.

dan handelman
peace and justice works/portland copwatch

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2021 13:07:32
From: Peace and Justice Works
To: Elizabeth Pape
     Bob MacKay
Subject: Input into audit on police intelligence gathering

To: Elizabeth Pape and Bob Mackay, Auditor's Office

re: upcoming audit of PPB intelligence gathering

Ms. Pape and Mr. Mackay

Thank you for reaching out to Peace and Justice Works/Portland Copwatch as you
prepare to audit police intelligence gathering issues.

The most important piece of this review is to ensure the City is following
state law 181A.250, which says law enforcement may not:

   collect or maintain information about the political, religious or social
   views, associations or activities of any individual, group, association,
   organization, corporation, business or partnership unless such
   information directly relates to an investigation of criminal activities,
   and there are reasonable grounds to suspect the subject of the
   information is or may be involved in criminal conduct.

Before we get to the background on our interest in this statute, it's
important to know that the resolution to a 1996 lawsuit, Squirrel v. City of
Portland, included Judge Michael Marcus' order for the City to review the
Criminal Intelligence Unit's files once every two months and every two years
to be sure they were purging anything that wasn't related to criminal
information. The duty to review those files was assigned to the Auditor's
Independent Police Review when it was created in 2001. However, when we asked
for an update some time later, we found that the court order expired after 10
years and thus IPR stopped reviewing those files.

The concern about Portland Police violating this statute is one of the key
reasons Portland withdrew from the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force both in
2005 and 2019. The FBI's threshold to open investigations is much lower than
Oregon law allows. Thus, while there may be legal hurdles thrown in your way,
we recommend an audit of both the CIU's local files and any files they
generated or were asked to handle through the JTTF. The CIU's self-generated
files should also be audited.

Furthermore, we have expressed concern for years, and a judge agreed last year
in a lawsuit by other Portlanders, that randomly video-recording people at
protest actions constitutes "collecting" information on people's "social,
political or religious affiliations" without reasonable suspicion of criminal
conduct. For a long time officers have been seen with cell phones,
pole-mounted and body-worn cameras recording at events where no criminal
activity was occurring. (We also have questions about what level of criminal
activity is contemplated by the law, since the PPB could start recording
people who jaywalk at a protest and say that's legal under the statute.) The
Bureau also uses video in its two Air Support Unit aircraft at protest

The City's response has been that they use such recordings for training and
debriefing purposes, and hand the material to the City Attorney's office when
they are not in use. The statute is clear that collecting the information in
the first place is unlawful.

Recently the Mayor and Deputy Chief asked community members to collect
information about people going to demonstrations who wear certain kinds of
clothing. While civilians are not covered by 181A.250, if they send that
information to the PPB it must be discarded if the person in question is not
described committing a criminal act.

The PPB needs to be trained to reject vigilante reports that do not allege
criminal conduct. During the 2019 investigation into Lt. Jeff Niiya's friendly
texts with members of Patriot Prayer, we wrote this in a statement to the

   There are actually several texts from Lt. Niiya aiding in identifying
   individuals who may be affiliated with certain political movements, in
   apparent violation of this law. In fact, one email exchange still
   includes a community member's email address and lists of people that
   community member asserts are with the Patriot Prayer or anti-fascist
   movements. It was inappropriate to publish this information back in
   February, and highly questionable that it would be maintained without
   redactions throughout this investigation and released again publicly.

***To put it clearly, both your audit and a system for the future need to
ensure the PPB is not collecting information on people in violation of the
state statute, and moreover explicitly tells civilians and other officers
offering such information that with no connection to a crime, they aren't
allowed to accept that information (much less share it with other law

It's likely the Audit will not stretch back this far, but we now include our
background information to illustrate the kinds of things you should look for
when looking at files reflecting our suggestion.

--In 1992, two undercover informants attended a very early meeting of our
organization. We only found this out when a member who was involved in a
non-PJW event was arrested and a file was used to try making his bail higher
than others arrested at the same time. The file was labeled "civilian police
review board." At the meeting we discussed the problems with the then-current
system, PIIAC, and ideas to strengthen that board. Judge Marcus was incensed,
asking what possible criminal conduct is there in advocating for such
oversight, and then ordering the reviews discussed above. The file generated
by the undercovers included a list of every organization that people said they
were part of, thus creating a "guilt by association" issue.

--In 1998, PJW's Iraq Affinity Group held an emergency action opposing the
bombing of Iraq by then-President Clinton. People unaffiliated with the
organization split off from the rally and some were arrested several blocks
away. The arrest report, which was copied on red paper (making it hard to
reproduce) listed the name of Dan Handelman (though it was spelled wrong), as
the "leader of the Iraq Affinity Group" who has organized many actions against
US policy in Iraq. Mr. Handelman was listed in "non-connect info" but there is
no explanation why his name should have appeared at all because organizing
demonstrations is not criminal conduct.

Though we tried to file suit against the City for this second action violating
the Squirrel order, it was thrown out on a technicality involving the
timeline. For more information see:


So in other words, both times the PPB was putting down information in their
files that was in apparent violation of the statute, and nobody in the chain
of command ordered those parts to be rewritten or removed.

There are also other longer term spying scandals which the Auditor will
probably hear about and may be illustrative, such as the "Red Squad" files
discovered by the ACLU in the early 1980s, giving rise to the state statute,
and the sharing of information with the Anti-Defamation League in the
mid-1990s, which included files with labels like "pinkos."

Feel free to contact us back for more information or questions. We would like
to hear your thoughts on the issues we have raised.

Thank you
dan handelman and other members of
peace and justice works/portland copwatch

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