Legislative panel will hear from public about police practices
An Oregon legislative committee will hear from the public about half a dozen draft bills that would change police practices beyond what the Legislature approved at a special session last month.
The Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday through Friday, July 29 to 31. The draft bills are for the 2021 session, which opens Jan. 11.
The public can testify online or submit written testimony via email. The committee webpage (address below) has details.
The bills are likely to be amended.
Some of the draft bills are based on the legislation passed during the June 24-26 special session, but they go further. The concepts are listed below. There is one proposal that was unavailable in draft form or in a summary; it is listed last.
• Riot control: Bars use of tear gas. (Special-session law HB 4208 allows use of tear gas only if a riot is declared, police give at least two warnings about its imminent use, and police allow time for people to evacuate the area.)
Also bars use of pepper spray except in a riot, only if the mayor/other designated person or the sheriff authorizes its use, and police follow the warning procedures now allowed for use of tear gas in a riot. Bars use of rubber bullets ("kinetic impact projectiles") unless aimed at a specific person for probable cause, and bars targeting the head, pelvis or back of a person. Bars use of sound cannons (long-range acoustic devices) above 105 decibels, the level of a close-by helicopter or a rock concert. Allows lawsuits against police agencies for violations.
• Uniforms and identification: Requires police to wear white or light blue shirts and navy pants, unless part of a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) or Community Emergency Response (CERT) team, or part of an undercover team. Requires police to wear first and last name on uniform, badge number or other identification, and agency affiliation — with the exceptions noted above — and officers must disclose that information when asked. Violations would be second-degree official misconduct. Similar identification would be required for police vehicles, with exceptions.
• Chokeholds: Bars police from using them. (Special-session law HB 4203 allows their use only in instances where officers may use deadly force.)
• Police misconduct reports: Requires police to report misconduct. (Special-session law HB 4205 requires police to report misconduct to a supervisor, but lays out no specifics for what a supervisor should do.) If the report is filed with a supervisor, that person has 72 hours to give it to someone with the authority to investigate the report and impose discipline. That investigator has 48 hours to begin looking into the report — which must be completed in three months — and send the conclusions to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, and the Oregon Department of Justice if a civilian is involved.
If the misconduct is committed by a supervisor or is against another officer, the officer's report goes directly to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, which must remove identifying information before it sends the report to the reporting officer's agency for investigation.
• Police conduct standards: Sets up a new statewide commission to set police conduct standards, effective July 2021. Arbitration of disputes would still be allowed, but the state Employment Relations Board would choose the arbitrators. Police discipline would no longer be a subject of negotiations allowed under the state's collective bargaining law between government agencies and public employee unions. (Special-session law SB 1604 bars arbitrators from overturning disciplinary action against police if misconduct is determined by the officer's agency.)
• Police disciplinary records: Draft not available as of noon Monday. (Special-session law HB 4207 requires disciplinary records to be compiled for a statewide data base by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.)
Click here for a link to the webpage of the committee, including draft legislation and summaries.
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