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Complaint procedures under study.

Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

Want some say in how the police department handles complaints? Here's your chance.

The Eugene Police Commission will hold a public forum Thursday to gather ideas and suggestions about how to improve procedures for handling complaints against city police officers.

An earlier forum at the University of Oregon was poorly attended, but the 12-member police commission feels community input should play a vital role in reforming a little-used system intended to help the department better serve the public.

"We want to hear how accessible the complaint process is to the community," police commission member and City Councilor Bonny Bettman said. "We want to know about obstacles or problems they perceive or have experienced."

Commissioners also want suggestions about how to improve the system that left Eugene Police Chief Robert Lehner feeling frustrated and uncomfortable when he joined the department earlier this year.

Lehner asked the commission to review the system in March, a month before an independent auditor released a report that criticized the reliability, timeliness, thoroughness and quality of supervision over internal investigations of department employees.

City councilors last week approved a $70,000 request from the police commission so it can complete the review faster than it otherwise could. A portion of the money will pay for an outside consultant to research complaint processes at other departments.

Participants at Thursday's forum, held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Bascom/Tykeson Room of the Eugene Public Library, will hear an overview first of how the current process works. Theythen will be able to comment on how to improve it.

The public is asked to consider the following questions:

Do you know what to do if you have a complaint against a Eugene Police Department employee?

What, if anything, would prevent you from filing a complaint with the police department?

If you have filed a complaint in the past, what was your experience like? If you have not, what would you expect from the process?

What ways can you think of that would improve the complaint process?

The forum will be broadcast live on Metro Television, Comcast Cable Channel 21, and replayed at 8 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 8 p.m. next Thursday.

It is sponsored by the police commission, the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Community Alliance of Lane County and the Eugene Human Rights Commission. Four future forums are in the works on the same topic.
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Title Annotation:Government; The police commission seeks public comment on how to improve the Eugene system
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 4, 2004
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