politics

Oregon Legislature Advances Police Accountability Measures

By Dirk VanderHart (OPB) and Jeff Mapes (OPB)
June 26, 2020 10:35 p.m.

UPDATE (4:34 p.m. PT) — Oregon lawmakers were working Friday to pass six police accountability measures as part of their response to the protests against racism and police violence across the country.

As they headed toward the expected conclusion of a three-day special session, legislators had either approved or appeared poised to approve the following changes:

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  • Allowing police use of chokeholds only when deadly force is warranted.
  • Allowing the use of tear gas only after police announce they intend to use it and give people time to disperse. Police must first declare a riot is occurring under Oregon law before using tear gas.
  • Tightening standards for police officers seeking to appeal disciplinary actions to binding arbitration.
  • Requiring officers to take action to prevent or report a fellow officer engaged in misconduct.
  • Requiring the state to maintain public records on police discipline that law enforcement agencies around the state must check when hiring an officer.
  • Establishing the Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform. The panel is supposed to make recommendations by the end of the year for additional legislative action.

As of Friday afternoon, legislators had already approved all of the bills, except for the measure dealing with police arbitration procedures. Like the other bills, this one is expected to pass both chambers with broad bipartisan support.

"I want to be clear: we still have much work to do to get to a place where our communities can genuinely feel safe around those who are sworn to protect and serve them," said Sen. Lew Frederick, a Portland Democrat and one of four Black lawmakers in Oregon.

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