Portland City Council’s plan to transition to a new police oversight board has been so chaotic, City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero informed the council and the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday that she will force the council to assume control of the Independent Police Review starting July 1.

“We never should have been put in this position,” Hull Caballero told OPB. “(A change to police oversight) was thrown onto a ballot. Council told voters it was ready for their consideration as voters. It was not and they knew it was not. And so now they’re looking at the auditor’s office to say, ‘you clean this up.’”

The city charter requires the auditor’s consent for many of her duties, including overseeing the Independent Police Review.

In her fiscal year 2022-23 budget request submitted last week, Hull Caballero said there is substantial risk IPR employees will leave their jobs before a replacement board approved by voters in November 2020 is operational, forcing the auditor to reassign other staff to the oversight body. Hull Caballero said the city doesn’t have a credible plan to replace those employees, and she is worried about staff shortages in her office.

“I will immediately initiate procedures to move responsibility for IPR’s employees, budget, and operations to Council’s designated agency, effective July 1, 2022,” Hull Caballero wrote in a memo addressed to the Justice Department prosecutors overseeing the settlement agreement, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and the rest of city council

Some form of police oversight is required by the settlement agreement between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice, meaning any changes must be approved by federal prosecutors.

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