Going forward from the Grand Jury decision FAQ - 9-13-18

What does the grand jury decision mean?
After hearing witnesses and reviewing the evidence, a Multnomah County grand jury declined to indict PSU campus police officers Shawn McKenzie and James Dewey on criminal charges in the June 29 officer-involved shooting of Jason Washington. District Attorney Rod Underhill said in Sept. 13 statement: “The grand jury’s not true bill decision means they have determined no criminal prosecution is warranted, and that the use of deadly force against Mr. Washington by PSU Officer James Dewey and Officer Shawn McKenzie was a lawful act of self-defense and/or defense of a third person, pursuant to Oregon law.” 

What is the status of the officers? 
Officers McKenzie and Dewey have been on administrative leave since June 29. With the Portland Police Bureau investigation and grand jury deliberations over, they will returned to desk duty assigned to administrative work until further notice.  Officer McKenzie resigned his position as police officer on September 28, 2018.

Will the officers be armed? 
As sworn police officers, the two officers will continue to be armed and carry their duty weapon but will not be on patrol duty until further notice.

Are you making any changes? 
PSU has hired two independent consultants: one will conduct a top-to-bottom review of campus security and safety, and the second firm will review the June 29 fatal shooting. The comprehensive review will examine officer training, staffing, resources, relationship with local law enforcement and other policies and procedures. The consultant then will make recommendations to campus leadership about potential changes.   

What consulting firms are being hired? 
The nationally recognized firm on campus safety, Margolis Healy, will conduct the comprehensive review of PSU safety and security. The nationally recognized independent police oversight and review firm, OIR Group, will conduct the review of the June 29th shooting.     

How were the consultants chosen? 
PSU issued a public Request for Qualifications seeking consultants with experience and expertise in campus safety. Six firms responded. The 15-member University Public Safety Oversight Committee, which is made up of PSU students, faculty, staff and greater community members, reviewed the firms and unanimously recommended Margolis Healy to President Shoureshi.  A similar process by the UPSOC recommended two highly qualified firms for the review of the June 29th shooting, and President Shoureshi selected the OIR Group after conversations with the two finalists.    

Who is on the Oversight Committee and what is their role going forward? 
The 15 members are listed here along with their responsibilities. Going forward, the committee will help guide Margolis Healy, provide a review of the safety report once it is completed and submit that to President Shoureshi and the Board of Trustees. 

How much are the consultants being paid?  
PSU is still in negotiations with the consultants, and the contract will be public once it is finalized.   

Will the consultant’s report be made public?  
Yes, the final report submitted to the Board of Trustees will be available to the public.  

When will it be completed? 
Margolis Healy will start its review process shortly and work with PSU to develop a timeline that include organizing forums, interviews and comprehensive fact finding and research. The review likely will take several months before recommendations go to President Shoureshi and the Board of Trustees.    

Will PSU consider disarming campus police after this?  
The independent review will examine campus security and safety, including armed campus police officers. A separate independent review will examine the June 29 fatal shooting of Mr. Washington. The consultant for the comprehensive review, Margolis Healy, will hold a series of campus forums on campus safety this fall for students, faculty, staff and the public. Campus leaders and the Board of Trustees will revisit the issue of armed campus police officers after reviewing the consultant's recommendations and input from the campus and greater community.

Has PSU done an internal investigation of the shooting?
No. The Portland Police Bureau has been the investigative agency, and investigators presented their findings to the grand jury. With the grand jury decision to clear the officers of potential criminal charges, PSU is moving forward with the two independent reviews detailed above to ensure independent oversight and recommendations from outside experts rather than an internal review.     

What are the alternatives for campus security if police are disarmed? 
The independent consultant will examine alternatives and potential impact on campus safety as part of their review. 

Have other campuses disarmed their police force? 
The University of Oregon and OHSU have a sworn, armed police force, and Oregon State University has sworn, armed officers with the Oregon State Police for their campus security. When the PSU Board of Trustees approved an armed police force nearly four years ago, Portland State was the only campus with more than 15,000 students in the United States without a sworn, armed police force.   

What is PSU doing to ensure this doesn’t happen again? 
The goal of the independent review is to determine whether changes are needed in staffing, training, policies and procedures and other issues involving campus safety and the Campus Public Safety Office.

Will the bodycam footage from the officers be released?  
Yes. The camera footage was not released previously because it was part of the Portland Police Bureau investigation. Media outlets that have requested the footage will get access. 

Has President Shoureshi seen the bodycam footage? 
The president has not viewed the bodycam footage and instead will wait for the full investigations by both the OIR Group and Margolis Healy to get underway.  At some point, the president will view the footage.  

Will the grand jury transcripts be made public? 
A Multnomah County judge will determine if the transcripts are to be made public at the request of the Multnomah County District Attorney. The DA’s office should be contacted for a document request. 

Will the Portland Police Bureau investigation be made public? 
Since the Portland Police Bureau conducted the investigation, they will decide if the case file will be made public. Any requests for documents should go through the PPB GovQA public requests page

Who at PSU was subpoenaed by the grand jury?    
The district attorney’s office will release the transcripts of the grand jury that includes witness testimony.   

Will students, faculty, staff and others get an opportunity to comment on potential changes? 
Yes. The consultant Margolis Healy will conduct a series of forums with students, faculty, staff and the public this fall as part of their top-to-bottom review. Details will be announced soon. 

Has the president met with students to hear their concerns? 
Yes. President Shoureshi has met with the elected leaders of the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU). This incident occurred during the summer break, when most students are not on campus. After classes begin this fall, both the president and Board of Trustees expect to hear from students at its Oct. 4  meeting, and the consultants Margolis Healy will conduct a series of forums to solicit input from students, faculty, staff and the public about campus safety and security issues. 

Has the President personally spoken to the family?  
Given Jason Washington’s family’s situation and their grief, President Shoureshi has publicly expressed his condolences and respected their situation. However, he is open to speaking to the family when the time is appropriate. In the meantime, PSU has worked with the family through their representatives.  

Assuming the family is watching, what would you like to tell them?
President Shoureshi has said the death of Mr. Washington weighs heavily on his mind and has deeply shaken all those involved as well as the greater campus community. PSU is determined to learn from this tragedy, which is why the president has called for an independent review of both the fatal shooting and for a top-to-bottom review of campus safety and security.

What happened to the memorial? Will PSU install a permanent memorial?
PSU has worked with Mr. Washington’s family to remove the memorial. We did so because temporary public memorials represent expressions of free speech and the law requires that what is done for one such expression must be done for all. To preserve the temporary memorial, PSU has taken detailed photos of it and provided them to the family. The family has asked for photographic memorial books, and the university is working with their representatives to prepare them. 

Will there be opportunities for public and campus comment on this incident and safety in general? 
Yes. Margolis Healy will organize a series of forums this fall to hear from students, faculty and others as part of their comprehensive review. Times, dates and locations will be announced in the coming weeks.  

Has PSU talked with Mayor Wheeler or the Portland Police Bureau about the possibility of taking over campus security? 
The comprehensive safety and security review will look at that alternative. For background, however, a PSU safety task force in 2014 explored partnering with the Portland Police Bureau and Oregon State Police instead of the university creating a sworn, armed campus police force. At that time, neither agency said they had the resources to do that.  

Updated October 1, 2018


 

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