A bill cleared the House Thursday that would require Oregon law enforcement agencies to report disciplinary action of police officers to the state and establish a statewide database of all actions taken against public safety employees that lead to economic sanctions.
House Bill 3145 comes at the request of two civil rights advocacy groups: the Oregon Justice Resource Center and the New York-based Innocence Project.
The bill aims to improve access and communication between agencies on information regarding complaints, allegations, charges, disciplinary proceedings, certain judicial findings and prosecutorial determinations, as well as suspensions, revocations of certification or certain resignations and terminations.
The bill also modifies the crime of tampering with public records, and creates the crime of “recklessly tampering” with public records. That offense would be punishable by imprisonment of less than a year and a possible $6,250 fine.
According to Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Happy Valley, reports of disciplinary action to state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training must include name and rank of the officer disciplined, their unit, employing agency, description of the facts of the case, underlying discipline imposed and a copy of the notice of final decision. DPSST will be required to publish that information on its database within 10 days of receipt.
Bynum said DPSST is likely to add the new data sets on discipline involving economic sanctions to its already existing Information Records Inquiry System (IRIS), where anyone can search for a police officer’s employment, certifications and training record.
Bynum also noted that negotiations to get this bill onto the floor whittled down what types of disciplinary actions would be included, landing on only those involving economic sanctions — i.e. suspension without pay or docked wages — because those are instances in which someone’s behavior had to be significantly poor.
She said she was surprised to see the bill pass unanimously, but pointed out that’s simply a testament to the ability of her colleague and co-carrier Rep. Ron Noble, R-McMinnville, to whip votes among his own caucus for causes where he’s an expert. Noble was a member of the Corvallis Police Department for 18 years before serving as chief of the McMinnville Police Department from 2006 to 2014.
“This provides an additional layer of transparency into a profession that is vitally important to our safety and security,” Noble said. “It provides another layer of responsibility for police officers and agencies to ensure that we have only the men and women out there adhering to the highest standards.”
One recent high-profile example of an incident the bill could potentially negate involved former Tigard police officer Gabriel Maldonado. He was hired by the Port of Portland in April — and subsequently let go — because he was hired while there was a pending investigation into his actions during the fatal shooting of Jacob Macduff on Jan. 6.
The port said it regretted that the investigation into Maldonado’s actions didn’t come to light during the hiring process. Port officials said they didn’t know the Washington County District Attorney was still investigating the case and hadn’t made a final decision on whether to pursue charges.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.