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In the News-Times' first reader mailbag after the May 18 election, thoughts on a submitted column and a House bill.

Not taken in by Post's excuse-making

Regarding Rep. Bill Post's column, "Want to speed up legislative process? Drop partisan bills:" I noticed that Rep. Post conveniently forgets that the Democrats last used the "walkout" ploy in 2001, while the Republicans have used it multiple times in the last several years. He sounded like Democrats should be empathetic to Republicans using every tactic necessary to "stop what they consider to be extreme, partisan legislation."

Read Rep. Bill Post's commentary, originally published online April 9, 2021.

If Rep. Post really believed what he said about "keeping the eye on the prize to help all of Oregon," he and his Republican colleagues would have stayed and done their jobs. If they disagreed so strongly with what they felt was "partisan" legislation, then they had the responsibility as legislators to make their case about their disagreement, instead of throwing the legislative equivalent of a temper tantrum and walking out. They abdicated their responsibility, and while some of their constituents likely cheered them on, many others likely did not.

Rep. Post can say all he wants about how high the percentage of bills is on which both parties actually agree and pass. However, how legislators act regarding that 10% of those so-called "partisan" bills says volumes about their true commitment to their constituents and to the legislative process.

The actions of Rep. Post and his Republican colleagues simply show their unwillingness to engage in open debate on issues that, by their so-called "divisiveness," need to see the light of day because they affect "all of Oregon." They can disagree or agree on bills, or pass them or not, but they all need to be there doing the work of the citizens, because that is why the citizens voted for them.

Brian McGahren, Tigard

Not all 'police reform' is created equal

Whereas it is common to hear or read, "I have never seen a police reform bill that I could not support," I say push the pause button, please.

Fourteen such bills are before the 2021 Legislature, and two cover police training. House Bill 2513 addresses the recognition and intervention of those suffering from severe mental illness and those in cardiorespiratory distress. House Bill 2162 creates accrediting bodies to emphasize equity.

There is no mention of errors, near misses, fatalities, de-escalation, mitigation, quality review, and sentinel events in these bills. These "keywords" represent the foundation for identifying and resolving failures that can result in needless death and harm, and for providing effective police training to avoid disasters.

Both the National Police Foundation safety initiative and the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs reference these practices; and historically, the airline industry and healthcare organizations have relied on them for decades. They save lives.

Why does it matter? We know some officers, when confronted with highly tense point of contact situations, fail to distinguish between a suspect's mobile device and a gun, and between their own firearms and tasers. Similarly, some incorrectly perceive non-threatening verbal or non-verbal actions of suspects as sinister, thereby increasing the probability they will take deadly action. A tragedy.

I recommend we advise our legislators to incorporate life-saving concepts and methodologies of crisis intervention into the substance of both bills, tying training and performance to officer proficiency and certification.

Further, these bills should outline the processes for in-depth and repetitive real time simulations where officers can, with confidence, make accurate and precise split second decisions where the safety of all is more likely assured.

The ultimate goals are to protect suspects, those apprehended, and innocent bystanders and ultimately our police officers from mistakes they later regret. If achieved, we will have fulfilled our duty to safeguard our communities and support law enforcement.

All police reform bills potentially do have merit! Yet, only those that contain provisions focusing on prevention, standards, and feedback on performance should be signed into law.

David A. Nardone, Hillsboro


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