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Last updated March 5, 2020
No knock warrants
Oregon is one of only three states in America that have banned the use of no-knock warrants by police officers.
Oregon has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments. In 2014, Oregon law enforcement had access to over $10.7 million in military equipment.
NOTE: Some local departments have returned equipment in recent years, citing practicality concerns. In addition, requests for equipment in Oregon have often shifted from weaponry to vehicles, scopes, office supplies, etc.
Military style training
Oregon has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage. A major component of the training focuses on self-defense. However, in the wake of George Floyd's murder, Governor Kate Brown (D) has committed to a review of the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training's (DPSST) standards for law enforcement training.
Pending Legislation: HB 2928, introduced in February 2021, limits the ability of law enforcement officers (or their proxies) to use kinetic impact devices, chemical incapacitants, and sound devices (aka rubber bullets, pepper spray, and Long Range Acoustic Devices). Though these measures do not explicitly address the militaristic mindset of policing, they do address the use of military-style tactics against community residents.
While Oregon law does not explicitly require reporting on SWAT Team deployments, the state's requirement of use of force reporting under HB2355 would likely document the use of SWAT Teams to respond to calls.
Civil asset forfeiture
While civil asset forfeiture exists in Oregon, law enforcement cannot keep the seized property unless a criminal conviction is handed down. Only then can agencies use the seized funds/property to pad their budget. However, the burden of proof to reclaim the property lies with the citizen, not the department.
Oregon has not yet enacted a law ending quotas for low-level arrests. While police departments in cities like Portland insist no quota system exists for ticketing, activists insist otherwise, citing the uncovering of secret quota systems in other cities like LA and NYC. Officially, however, quotas are not part of police department practices in Oregon.
Cost of misconduct
Oregon has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.
Through Ballot Measure 110, Oregon voters decriminalized the personal possession of illegal drugs including cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and methamphetamine. The penalty for possession is now a $100 fine, which a person can avoid by agreeing to participate in a health assessment. Additionally, under Oregon law, jaywalking is not deemed an illegal activity. However, numerous other minor offenses remain criminalized in the state.
Pending Legislation: HB 2002, introduced in February 2021, "converts mandatory minimum sentences for specified felonies other than murder to presumptive
sentences and reduces presumptive sentences for certain crimes." It also requires officers to issue citations, rather than make arrests, for several non-violent misdemeanors and prohibits traffic stops based solely on violations like driving with a broken headlight or tail light.
Objective justification for stops
A 2019 ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court bars law enforcement officials from using minor traffic violations to commence criminal inquiries. Officers are restricted to asking questions pertaining only to the traffic violation observed, rather than lines of questioning such as "are there any drugs in the vehicle, etc?" Another 2019 ruling by the Oregon Supreme Court deemed an officer's "hunch" insufficient to initiate a stop. Simply because an individual is present in a location associated with criminal activity does not constitute reasonable cause for their being detained and questioned.
Reporting stop details
In 2017, the Oregon Legislative Assembly passed HB 2355, requiring all law enforcement agencies beginning in 2021 to submit annual reports on traffic and pedestrian stops broken down by race, gender, and result of stop. In addition, the Oregon Department of Justice documents on its website use of force reports from across the state, and law enforcement agencies statewide are required to report uses of force to the DOJ.
Reckless civil rights violation
Oregon has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.
Oregon has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct. House Bill 4201, passed in the June 2020 special session, creates a task force to "examine policies related to use of force and transparency in policing" including determining "the most appropriate policy for independent review of the use of deadly
force by police officers, including an analysis of procedures and policies used in other states" on or before December 31, 2020. Previous versions of the bill created an office of independent investigation under the Attorney General's Office, but those sections were not included in the final legislation.
Oregon has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity.
Mental health response
Oregon has not yet enacted a law creating and funding a mental health task force available to respond to crisis calls (in lieu of police). While no statewide law exists mandating the creation of these services in communities across Oregon, the city of Eugene established in 1989 the CAHOOTS program. Instead of having police officers respond to mental health-related 911 calls, teams of two (a medic and mental health counselor) are dispatched to handle a crisis an individual may be having. The CAHOOTS program has been a model for other cities across the country.
Education, Housing, Community Health Resources
It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.
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