Leaders name lawmakers to police use of force panel
Two Black members will lead the Oregon Legislature's committee to review how police use force in Oregon and make recommendations to the 2021 session.
They are Sen. James Manning Jr. of Eugene and Rep. Janelle Bynum of Clackamas, both Democrats.
The membership, announced by legislative leaders on Tuesday, June 30, includes two former police chiefs: Reps. Rick Lewis of Silverton and Ron Noble of McMinnville, both of whom are Republicans.
The others: Sens. Lew Frederick, D-Portland; Bill Hansell, R-Athena; Dallas Heard, R-Roseburg; Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene; Kathleen Taylor, D-Milwaukie; Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer; Reps. Alissa Keny-Guyer and Akasha Lawrence-Spence, both D-Portland.
Manning, Bynum, Frederick and Lawrence-Spence are four of the nine members of the legislature's People of Color Caucus, which sponsored the package of six police accountability bills that lawmakers passed during a three-day special session last week. It was prompted by ongoing anti-police violence protests that erupted after the death of African American George Floyd.
Among the 14 members of the special session committee were Sens. Frederick, Heard, Prozanski and Thatcher, and Reps. Bynum and Lewis. Prozanski and Bynum lead the judiciary committees on their chambers.
The original House Bill 4201 would have put the Oregon Department of Justice, instead of district attorneys in Oregon's 36 counties, in charge of investigations into police use of force when it results in death or serious injury. But the amended version set up a special legislative committee to look at these points, as outlined below from the law:
The bill was amended after police unions said they had issues with the original version. The Department of Justice's legislative director said the agency did not have the budget, staffing or jurisdiction to take on such investigations — although Aaron Knott, on behalf of Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, said the agency was willing to discuss a broader role.
Oregon's law governing police use of force dates back to 1971. Following an effort by then-Attorney General Hardy Myers, the 2007 Legislature required county-by-county plans for police use of force.
House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said this: "The police accountability and transparency bills passed last week are a long-overdue beginning. We anticipate and look forward to more public conversation and additional concepts to consider in order to break down the institutional policies that have injured communities of color."
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