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Citizen Review Board to Discuss Investigation into EPD’s Use of Force During May Protests


This Tuesday the Eugene Citizen Review Board will provide an update on its investigation into the police department’s response to Black Lives Matter protests in late-May.

During racial justice demonstrations that occurred from May 29-31, the City of Eugene declared some of the protests as unlawful gatherings and issued city-wide curfews. In response to lingering community members, EPD deterred some protesters by using tear gas, pepper spray, pepper balls, 40mm sponge rounds, and field force batons (PR-24s).

After the events, the Civilian Review Board—which oversees the Police Auditor’s Office—unanimously voted for the investigations into EPD’s use of force to be a community impact case. As the process ends, the board is reviewing the investigation files and EPD Chief Chris Skinner’s preliminary adjudication, which was based on recommendations by the Police Auditor’s Office and EPD staff.

This community impact case includes six investigations into allegations of misconduct, six incident reviews—including review of each night of the weekend demonstrations, four inquiries, and one service complaint.

According to the Police Auditor’s press release, the investigation files are “extensive,” and include over 600 hours of video from body-worn cameras.

“EPD provided additional staff and resources to aid in the investigations, and the investigations have been the priority for Police Auditor staff as well,” stated the press release. “The Civilian Review Board will be receiving and discussing substantial, in-depth investigations into officers’ actions during that weekend, and they will be under significant time pressure to do so.”

Per City ordinance, the Civilian Review Board must complete the following within 30 days of receiving the case:
1. Concur with the preliminary adjudication;
2. Develop recommendations regarding the complaint, investigation, or relevant policy and procedural issues; and/or
3. Require the City to reopen the investigation. This is only an option if the Civilian Review Board finds that either (1) the investigation was incomplete or inadequate, and the Civilian Review Board believes that additional investigation could change the adjudication, or (2) if the Civilian Review Board finds that the adjudication is not supported by substantial evidence.

The Police Auditor’s office encourages the community to continue filing complaints by phone, online, email, or social media. The Civilian Review Board will discuss the community impact case in a virtual public meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 5:30pm.

The Civilian Review Board will accept one-minute public comments on issues unrelated to the investigation, at the beginning of the meeting. Commenters may email additional comments to the Auditor’s Office, which will then be distributed to Civilian Review Board members.

But community members who would like to provide a public statement about the investigation, must wait until January.

“Due to protocols bargained for at the inception of the civilian oversight system, the CRB cannot accept public comment on the cases that are being reviewed at the same meeting,” stated the press release. “Anyone who wishes to offer public comment on the community impact cases is invited to attend the January CRB meeting, to be held on January 12, 2021, to offer that comment.”

Elizabeth Gabriel is a former KLCC Public Radio Foundation Journalism Fellow. She is an education reporter at WFYI in Indianapolis.
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