Here’s what the city’s police watchdog group actually does

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Man, it’s a hot one.

What we’re talking about

Jake Bleiberg filed this story today that lays out the role and responsibility of Portland’s Police Citizen Review Subcommittee, which oversees some aspects of the department.  

He wrote:

“We do not have a lot of power as a subcommittee,” said Portland lawyer Kelly McDonald, who chairs the Police Citizen Review Subcommittee and has served on it for seven years.

The group is charged with ensuring that the Police Department’s internal affairs unit investigates complaints brought against the department in a “thorough, objective, fair and timely” manner, according to McDonald. And if the committee finds an investigation to not fit these criteria, it can report it to the city manager, who may take further action.

“And that,” McDonald said with a chuckle, “is our power.” The subcommittee does not have the power to overturn or alter the outcomes of internal affairs investigations.

The lack of power hasn’t been a problem, McDonald said, since, “internal affairs has done a hell of job.”

Here’s my question: Do you think that’s enough? Should the group have more authority?

Read his full story here for more details on the other ways that people across the community oversee their police.

ICYMI

A southern Maine judge has been suspended for the second time in nine years — The BDN’s Judy Harrison lays out the decision from the state’s highest court, which ruled that York County Probate Judge Robert M.A. Nadeau tried to use his position for personal gain.

In the decision, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court said that Nadeau wrote the following in a letter to the attorney of a woman from whom he was seeking a restraining order:

“‘You can posture all you want in the interest of advocacy,’” the decision quoted Nadeau as writing. “‘But absent immediate, legitimate responsibility and cooperation designed to achieve amicable, nonmonetary resolution of whatever issues your client and I apparently have, I respectfully submit this is going to become very bad for your client, you and your law firm.’”

Nadeau, a part-time judge who is paid about $1,000 per week, will be suspended for 30 days in October.

Context: Harrison writes: “In 2007, he was suspended for a week for lying about his opponent in his campaign for re-election in 2004.”

How’s your internet? — As the city seeks to build affordable broadband internet service, it released this survey to ask Portlanders how they feel about their current connection.

Maine leaves more welfare money unspent as more children fall into poverty — The Editorial Board follows up on Matt Stone’s reporting from last month that revealed the Department of Health and Human Services had quietly accrued a $110 million balance in the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Since then, the total has grown to $155.5 million. The problem is, “there’s little indication Maine’s poorest — including its poorest kids — are receiving meaningful assistance that can help them escape poverty,” the board writes.

Just so you know, we did ask the police about Pokemon — Portland police Lt. Robert Doherty tells Sam Shepherd that there haven’t been any arrests or complaints related to Pokemon Go, the hit augmented reality game that challenges players to catch animated creatures by roaming the city. Since the game came out on July 9, players have not only allegedly trespassed, but have fallen off of cliffs, crashed their cars and found dead bodies.

Final reminder! — It’s your last chance to pick your favorite design in our contest to design a better Portland flag. The deadline is Sunday night at 11:59 pm. Voters are entered to win a $50 Buoy Local gift card.

Big ideas — Charts edition

Democrats and Republicans actually speak different languages — From The Atlantic: “For several decades now, Republicans and Democrats have become more polarized. There are plenty of reasons for that, including the demise of the Southern Dixiecrats and the geographic sorting of the country into ideologically homogenous neighborhoods. But the two major parties are now divided by a common language: Democrats discuss ‘comprehensive health reform,’ ‘estate taxes,’ ‘undocumented workers,’ and ‘tax breaks for the wealthy,’ while Republicans insist on a ‘Washington takeover of health care,’ ‘death taxes,’ ‘illegal aliens,’ and ‘tax reform.’ When did the two major political parties create their own vocabularies?

“Around 1990.”

The history of coups d’etat — According to Quartz, they’ve “become less common but more successful.”

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at dmacleod@bangordailynews.com, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the editor of BDN Portland. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.