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Police Reform Bills to be Heard
If Antifa and BLM don’t finish off the cops, the Legislature will

As part of the ongoing slate of police reform bills -- dating back to the special sessions during the summer of last year -- State Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Portland) has introduced two bills, HB 2931 and HB 2932, which will receive a public hearing Wednesday at 8:00am before the House Committee on Equitable Policing. Perhaps not coincidentally, she chairs this committee. HB 2931 requires person who arrests another person to ensure arrested person receives medical assessment. The Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs has taken a stand against the bills, or at least to have them re-thought. Their statement on HB 2931 says:

The first and most obvious concern is that -- should both of these measures pass -- an officer faced with an arrestee who refuses medical assistance may be faced with a choice between violating HB 2931 (allowing the individual to refuse an examination) or appearing on a publicly-searchable database by dint of threatening or utilizing force to ensure compliance.

The awkward confluence of these two measures might be addressed if the Committee were to first inquire as to current practices and policies. In fact, the vast majority of police agencies in Oregon already have policies in place requiring officers to have EMS come out to the scene when certain levels of physical force are used or if the suspect is exhibiting any forms of physical distress. In fact, the Portland Police Bureau’s directive 630.45, Section 5 is broader in terms of who it applies to, though stops short of mandating examinations.

There is also a significant concern among ORCOPS membership that such mandated medical examinations conflict with a person’s right to refuse treatment. While cases such as Washington v. Harper (494 U.S. 210 1990) outlined the state’s ability to mandate medical treatment when a compelling interest existed, HB 2931 makes so much test and broadly applies the requirement to all arrested persons.

HB 2932, the companion bill, directs Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to establish statewide database of reports of use of physical force by peace officers and corrections officers The Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs is asking the committee to make amendments to this bill.

First, we are not clear as to what objective the proposed database is serving. Since the database is intended not only to chronicle threats or uses of force that are alleged to constitute misconduct, but all such actions -- even when unquestionably within policy -- it is unclear to us why the Committee would feel the need to individualize this data, contrary to the recent model used in the “stop data” project. Many officers will naturally be using a “threat of force” via implication in order to compel adherence to certain lawful orders. In many cases the threat of force is a part of a successful de-escalation strategy. The idea of noting that a particular officer “threatens to use physical force” in a scenario or even has such a pattern of activity, may be indicative of many things unrelated to the disposition of that particular officer. ORCOPS would ask that only sustained complaints of misconduct are individualized in such a database.

Frankly, the list of information to be collected about these incidents seems to be focused very much on vilifying the officer in question without providing adequate context about the subject.

In addition to submitting written testimony on the bills to the committee interested persons may also sign up to present oral testimony to the committee

There has been some speculation that Bynum's position as chair of the powerful House Judiciary Committee -- and the creation of the House Subcommittee On Equitable Policing -- was a gift to her for standing down in her bid to become House Speaker.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-24 20:25:22Last Update: 2021-01-24 20:56:22

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