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Anger over the shortcomings of Portland's system of police accountability has been in the spotlight recently as nightly demonstrations enter their second month.

JONATHAN LEVINSON/OPB - Massive crowds gathered in Portland on June 1 for protests over the killing of George Floyd, a Black man from Minneapolis who was killed after a police officer pushed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Amid a national uprising over police violence, a Portland city commissioner and a coalition of activists are pushing toward a November ballot measure that would reshape police oversight.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty's office has contacted more than a dozen groups and individuals, including civil rights organizations, attorneys and religious leaders, seeking input on a potential fall measure.

If passed by voters as currently envisioned, the measure would create a new police oversight system, enshrined in the city charter and independent from any elected office or city bureau. The measure would also create a committee tasked with building out the city charter's requirements and fleshing out the finer details of how the new police oversight body would function.

The changes enacted by a ballot measure and the resulting committee could open the door to reforms long-sought by many in the community, such as the ability for an oversight body to gather evidence through subpoenas, have final say within the city when it comes to disciplinary actions against officers, and the ability to change police directives and policies.

Oregon Public Broadcasting is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. You can find its story here.


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