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New Portland Police Standards for Rape Kit Testing Part of Effort to End Backlog

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

 

With more than $1 million coming to the City of Portland for the testing of the backlog of kits, the Portland Police Bureau told GoLocal it is radically changing its standards for whether rape kits are tested, and will be testing old kits, seeking to file charges on cases that have not led to an arrest.

Sgt. Peter Simpson, with the Portland Police Bureau, told GoLocal that the standards for whether rape kits are tested have changed in recent months.

“New kits are all tested on our new guidelines," Simpson said. "Those guidelines call for all kits to be tested except for 'Jane Doe' or anonymous kits. Those are held until the statute of limitations expires.”

For decades, only 34 percent of rape kits were tested, and now there’s a backup of more than 2,400 untested kits

The kits were not tested for a variety of reasons, according to police. If the suspect’s identity was not in question or if the evidence was not needed by the prosecution, kits were not tested. Same for cases deemed “unprosecutable” or if it was determined that no crime was committed. Kits were also left untested if the victim refused to participate in the investigation. 

Simpson said that kits were only tested if they met a limited set of criteria. The suspect must have been unknown for a kit to be tested automatically. If a suspect had been identified, kits were only tested if there was a history of violence, if the suspect had previously been tested for a crime or if there was an allegation of violence or force in the initial report.

Victims Groups Say All Kits Must Be Tested

Linda Fairstein, a former New York City prosecutor and founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation, said that all rape kits should be tested, out of respect for the victims of sexual assault.

“Every victim of a sexual assault who submits herself - or himself - to a physical examination and the collection of evidence deserves to have that evidence, that DNA, tested, and tested in a timely fashion,”  Fairstein said. 

She also said that untested kits leave evidence unexamined which may help lead to an arrest in a rape case, or in other cases. Melissa Bitter, a 14-year-old Oregon schoolgirl, was killed by a serial rapist in 2001, and detectives used an untested rape kit to identify her killer.

“There is critical information in each one of those evidence kits - information that can lead to the conviction of an assailant or the exoneration of an innocent man, and information that can save the lives of others from attack by sexual predators,” Fairstein said. “Every evidence collection kit - every single one in America - must be tested. This backlog of life-saving information must be eliminated now.” 

Backlog of Tests to Be Used to Solve Cold Cases 

Simpson, with the Portland Police Bureau, said that the City of Portland will be testing each of the more than 2,400 kits that have yet to be examined, though it is still unclear which kits will be tested first.

“All of the old kits will be tested, the process of selecting which kits to test first is being formalized,” Simpson said. “It’s hard to say what the results of the testing will be until it’s done, which may take more than a year.”

Simpson said that while police are hopeful that the testing of old kits will provide answers to unsolved crimes, there is still no guarantee that the process will end in new charges being filed. 

“Many kits will not tell us anything new at all as the suspect was known at the time and may even have DNA already on file,” Simpson said. “Others may lead us to new investigations and prosecutions. Until they are tested, we won’t have a definitive answer.”

 

Related Slideshow: Meet Portland Police Bureau’s New Members and Lieutenants

Here are the newly promoted Portland Police Bureau lieutenants, police officers, and non-sworn employees, as they were introduced by Sgt. Pete Simpson at the April 2015 Promotion and Officering Hiring Ceremony: 

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ANDY SHEARER

Promoted to the rank of lieutenant

Andy was appointed to the Portland Police Bureau on July 2nd, 1992.  He completed his training and was assigned to Northeast Precinct. Andy became a member of the Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) in 2002.

Andy was later assigned to the Youth Gun Anti-Violence Task Force, where he worked to reduce gun and gang violence. 

In 2010, Andy was promoted to sergeant and assigned to East Precinct and Central Precinct. He then returned to SERT as one of the team’s full-time sergeants.

Andy has 37 letters of commendation in his file, many of which cite his performance as a member of SERT and the Tactical Operations Division.  He was honored with a Unit Commendation Medal of Valor as a member of SERT, another Unit Commendation Medal for his work on SERT and a Unit Commendation Medal as part of the Gang Enforcement Team.

Lieutenant Andy Shearer will be assigned to the Chief’s Office. 

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PETER MAHUNA

Promoted to the rank of lieutenant

Pete was appointed to the Portland Police Bureau on October 1st, 1992.  He rotated through the precincts as part of his training and then was assigned to Central Precinct and then the Gang Enforcement Team.  He joined the Special Emergency Reaction Team in 2000.  

In 2010, Pete was assigned to North Precinct as a sergeant; most recently he has been assigned as a sergeant in the Detective Division.

Pete has more than 40 letters of commendation in his file, many for his dedication to reducing gang violence and addressing community livability.

Pete also has been honored with a Commendation Medal for his work on the Gang Enforcement Team’s undercover sting, “Operation Red Dragon”, and has two Unit Commendations for his participation on the Gang Enforcement Team as well as street crimes in Central Precinct. He was also honored with a Unit Commendation with Valor as a member of SERT.

Lieutenant Pete Mahuna will be assigned to East Precinct Day Shift.

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STEPHANIE LOURENCO

Promoted to the rank of lieutenant

 

Stephanie was appointed to the Portland Police Bureau on August 12th, 1999.  She completed her rotation throughout the precincts and was assigned to Northeast Precinct and then Southeast Precinct.  She later worked at Central Precinct before being promoted to Sergeant in 2006.  As a sergeant Stephanie has been assigned to Northeast Precinct and then most recently the Family Services Division.

Stephanie has 17 letters of commendation in her file that describe the busy life of a patrol officer and sergeant. Community members have thanked her for her professionalism during crises, outgoing and caring attitude and tactical planning.

Stephanie also was part of a Unit Commendation as a member of the Crisis Intervention Team.

Lieutenant Stephanie Lourenco will be assigned to Central Precinct.

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RYAN LEE

Promoted to the rank of lieutenant

Ryan was appointed to the Portland Police Bureau on September 21st, 2000.  He rotated through the precincts as part of his training and then was assigned to Central Precinct and then East Precinct as part of the Neighborhood Response Team.  He was also a detached member of the Bureau’s Rapid Response Team.

In 2008, Ryan was promoted to sergeant and assigned to North and then the Transit Police Division.  He has worked at North Precinct the last two years.  

Ryan has 25 letters of commendation in his file, most of which cite his professionalism, calm demeanor and helpfulness.

Ryan also has a Unit Commendation as part of the Bureau’s Burglary Intervention Team at East Precinct.

Lieutenant Ryan Lee will be assigned to the Traffic Division.

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MICHAEL FROME

Promoted to the rank of lieutenant

Mike was appointed to the Portland Police Bureau on January 21, 1999.  After completing his training rotations, he worked at Central Precinct and then as a member of the Criminal Intelligence Unit, assigned as dignitary protection to then-Mayor Vera Katz.  

Mike then went to Northeast Precinct before being promoted to Detective. He worked in the Detective Division and then moved to East Precinct. In 2011 he was assigned as a sergeant to Central Precinct.

Mike most recently was assigned to the Burglary Task Force in the Detective Division. He has 16 letters of commendation in his file, thanking him for his professionalism and commitment to conducting thorough investigations.  He has received a Unit Commendation as part of the Bureau’s Crisis Intervention Team and two Life Saving Medals for his response to suicidal individuals.

Lieutenant Mike Frome will be assigned to Central Precinct Afternoon Shift.

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RIC DELAND

Promoted to the rank of lieutenant

Ric was appointed to the Portland Police Bureau on December 6th, 1990.  After rotating through the precincts as part of his training, he settled in at Northeast Precinct in 2001.  In 2010, Ric was promoted to Sergeant and assigned to Central Precinct.

Ric has more than  30 letters of commendation in his file and one Unit Commendation for his work at Central Precinct Street Crimes.  Ric has been involved in countless community policing initiatives and the letters describe his professionalism, compassion and dedication to making people’s lives better by affecting community livability.

Lieutenant Ric Deland will be assigned to East Precinct Night Shift.

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NICHOLAAS GILLINGHAM

Welcomed as a new police officer ​

Nick was born and raised in Vancouver, Washington, and graduated from Hudson’s Bay High School in 2010.  

Nick began his goal of becoming a Police Officer by joining the Portland Police Bureau Cadet Program in 2011, and continued in that capacity until 2013.  Nick then joined the Clark County Sheriff’s Department in Vancouver as a Reserve Deputy, where he was described by a supervisor as trustworthy, dependable, and a hard worker.

While volunteering as a Reserve Deputy, Nick also worked for the Vancouver School District as a District Resource Officer.  Nick was responsible for keeping the schools, students, and staff safe while enforcing school rules and policies.  

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LAWRENCE O’DEA IV

Welcomed as a new police officer ​

Larry was born in Portland and graduated from Oregon City High School. He obtained an Associate’s Degree in General Studies from Clackamas Community College, then went on to Portland State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Science in 2012. 

Prior to becoming a Portland Police Officer, Larry was employed with Albertina Kerr Center, where he was a Direct Care Professional. During his time there, Larry worked with two developmentally disabled individuals who have moderate to severe behavioral issues. His duties included providing personal care, ensuring support plans and making sure their goals were met. 

In Larry’s free time, he enjoys fishing, basketball, car projects and doing volunteer construction work for Habitat for Humanity.

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ELLE WEATHEROY

Welcomed as a new non-sworn member ​

Elle was hired as the Equity and Diversity Program Manager in the Chief’s office on February 4th, 2015.  Elle is the 4th member of the Weatheroy family to join the Police Bureau, following her father and two brothers.

She is a graduate of Benson High School, and then attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Oregon State University, followed by Portland State University where she earned a Master’s of Social Work.  

After moving to Washington DC, she worked as a social worker at several levels and disciplines, as well as a recruiter and staff development trainer.  She then moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where she started Weatheroy Consulting, LLC.  She joined the Annie E. Casey Foundation as a consultant, working with many states in public system reform.  

Elle returned to Portland, in 2013, and worked locally in areas of equity and diversity training, middle manager training, and strategic planning.  

Elle enjoys cycling, exercise, live music, outdoor activities and spending time with her family and dog, Pacino.  

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MELODIE BRUHN 

Welcomed as a new non-sworn member ​

Melodie was hired in February 2015, as a Police Administrative Support Specialist at North Precinct, working out of the Lloyd District Contact Office. 

Melodie was born in the Southwest, raised in Texas and New Mexico, and has been a grateful Oregon resident since the 1980s.  She graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Environmental Science. 

Before joining the Police Bureau, Melodie worked as a long-time manager at Powell’s Technical Bookstore and also managed multiple properties and events as a Personal Assistant to some prominent Portlanders. 

Melodie enjoys hiking, birding, travel, being a parent, foster-parent, and soon-to-be-grandparent.  She is an avid amateur photographer, and eventually hopes to master fly-fishing. 

Melodie is happy to join the Bureau and enjoys the amazing people she has been working with. She invites Bureau members to stop by the Lloyd District Contact Office and say hello.

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MEGAN CHAPMAN 

Welcomed as a new non-sworn member ​

Megan was hired as a Police Administrative Support Specialist and assigned to the Youth Services Division on March 31st, 2015.

Megan spent her childhood living in the Yukon Territory, Canada, before moving to Portland. She graduated from St. Mary’s Academy, where she was a three-time Oregon State Champion in the National Science Olympiad competition, and President of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. 

Megan received a Presidential Scholarship to attend Elon University in North Carolina, and graduated last May with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She is currently in the first year of her Master’s Program at Lewis and Clark, pursuing a degree in Marriage, Couples, and Family Therapy.

Megan joins the Bureau after having served as a Summer Works intern for Commissioner Steve Novick in 2013. 

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ED TYNAN

Welcomed as a new non-sworn member ​

Ed was hired as an Identification Technician in the Forensic Evidence Division on March 26th, 2015. 

Ed was born in Twentynine Palms, California, and lived in Japan and North Carolina before settling with his family in Oregon. Since 1989, Ed has called Portland his home. 

Before joining the Police Bureau, Ed worked with Multnomah County Department of Community Justice, Legacy Health, and with the Federal Reserve Police. 

Ed enjoys spending his free time doing anything outdoors. Some of his interests include camping, fishing, hiking, and metal detecting.

 
 

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