Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer presented the Police Bureau’s plan (pdf) to address racial profiling at last week’s city council meeting. The plan, which the council approved in a unanimous vote, includes a new policy requiring officers to give out business cards whenever they interact with citizens. Cops will also have to provide a written explanation for making contact with individuals. The Bureau will make an effort to diversify the police force through new hires and increase cultural competancy training and outreach efforts across the department. Portland Police is also exploring ways to collect more data on race and routine traffic stops. However, they are making an effort to keep the names of individual officers off the public record.
Other cities around the state and the region are facing this issue. The NAACP in Seattle reported last year that racial profiling was on the rise in their city and the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. in July brought the sensitive matter of police bias back into the national spotlight.
Have you ever felt like race played a factor in your interaction with police officers? Are you a police officer? How does race affect your job and others’ perception of you? What is the best approach to reducing and preventing racial profiling?
- April Baer: Reporter for OPB News
- Scott Westerman: President of the Portland Police Association and sergeant in the Portland Police Bureau
- Jo Ann Bowman: Executive director for Oregon Action
- Michael Rouches: Public information officer and lieutenant with the Hillsboro Police Bureau