What’s In Front of Us Right Now

Now that the Oregon Legislature’s first major deadline has passed, many bills introduced this session are no longer moving forward. Several that ORCOPS have been working on are still in the mix, however. We’re keeping an eye on a number of important measures that are still under consideration and as you’ll see, some of them have changed dramatically over the course of session.

Here’s what’s in front of us right now:

HB 2571 (facilitating local bodycam policies) passed out of the House Judiciary Committee with an amendment that ensures that all faces will be blurred in the event that footage ever finds its way to the public. No footage would be made public until all associated legal proceedings are concluded and if a judge says that its release is in the public interest. Rep. Jennifer Williamson (D – Portland) specifically noted that mere conversation was not intended to be recorded and that local agencies were expected to develop their own use and exception policies.

HB 2002 (prohibiting profiling) was amended with ORCOPS recommendations and has passed out of committee as well. Our amendments protect the ability of officers to pursue suspects based on descriptions and other information, and allow latitude for non-coercive encounters. We also secured additional public record protections around complaints, data, and adjustments to the charge of a workgroup to be formed around this issue.This measure has come a long way from the initial concept which established a broad prohibition and gave the Attorney General investigation and enforcement responsibilities.

SB 822 (requiring grand jury recordings) and SB 871 (various provisions around use of force investigations) were passed out of Senate Judiciary to Ways & Means. These bills still contain provisions ORCOPS finds harmful, such as specific carve-outs for when proceedings for police officers may be released. The Senate Judiciary Committee understood our concerns and there’s a commitment to work out those issues in the Ways & Means Committee. We have already had discussions with Rep. Jeff Barker (D – Aloha) and Williamson, who are both on the subcommittee.

HB 2704 (allowing the filming of police officers) was amended to be very simple and passed to the House floor on a 7-2 vote. As amended, the bill adds an exception to the surreptitious filming prohibitions if a person is “openly” filming officers while the officers are on duty and in a public place.  Some cleanup amendments are expected in the House to ensure prohibitions against things like long-range microphones.

SB 629 (“Right to Rest Act” – allowing homeless persons the ability to rest in public places) did not advance before the first deadline and will not be moving forward. ORCOPS participated in a workgroup and described several elements of the bill that would have to be adjusted or eliminated to earn our support, but at that point the advocates chose not to move forward.

A number of other bills did not move – many of these in ORCOPS’ favor. Others are still alive (such as carrying firearms while off duty), and will now be considered in the second legislative chamber.

Contact me if you have any questions or comments regarding our ORCOPS activities.

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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First Big Deadline Passes

This week we saw our first big deadline in the Legislature. Most of the bills not scheduled for action by April 10th are automatically dead.This means many bills that people are scrambling to schedule are not ready for prime-time, but they’re hoping to buy an extra week to negotiate a deal or work out some details.

It also means that we can expect to see some bills pop onto schedules that just simply aren’t going to end up going anywhere. A good advocate in Salem will separate what’s viable from what isn’t and keep their eye on what matters.

One of the things that matters to ORCOPS is the profiling bill, HB 2002. It has come a long way from its introduced version, and Legislators have so far done a good job listening to law enforcement officers. They’ve created a bill that can help bolster the public’s trust in law enforcement, steering clear of policy that would impact officers’ ability to keep our communities safe. ORCOPS worked to ensure community policing practices were protected and added in strict public records protections for officers.

A bill to add to the Officers’ Bill of Rights (Senate Bill 743) is making its way through the Senate Judiciary Committee. While the Committee could not reach an agreement on using citations in performance evaluations, they have indicated an interest in protecting officers from disciplinary action as a result of being placed on a prosecutor’s impeachment list.

As the Legislative Session progresses, we expect discussions on use of force investigations and on grand jury proceedings. ORCOPS will take a strong stand against proposals that look to chip away at law enforcement officers’ rights and protections. We’ve built up support and created allies across the aisle on several big issues this session. This work has given us the respect and the coalition we need to stand strong when it counts over the next few months.

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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Bills are coming up for votes in Salem and things are really starting to move

Bills are coming up for votes in Salem and things are really starting to move – generally in a good way, but there are still some challenges ahead.

On Monday, we had a public hearing on HB 2978, which would allow officers who do not impose economic discipline and who carry out – but do not develop – policy to join a bargaining unit if they so decide. This is the next step in a multi-year effort among public employees to clarify the definition of “supervisory employee” for these purposes. The City of Portland opposed the bill based on the fear that it would potentially impact an existing agreement with captains. ORCOPS is discussing a potential amendment with members of the Business and Labor Committee.

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Key Issues Come Into Focus

It’s been a week of both offense and defense in Salem, as key issues come into focus. The Legislature is beginning to take action on many of the things we’re watching closely.

With regard to profiling, Speaker of the House Tina Kotek (D – Portland) is taking the lead on mediating a deal between advocates (notably the Center for Intercultural Organizing) and public safety advocates such as ORCOPS). While it’s becoming clear that some form of a bill will likely pass, we’re working for the best version possible. We have had some fruitful discussions focusing on reasonable exceptions (such as a welfare check of a person based on their homelessness status or mere conversations), and are emphasizing local control over such policy.

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ORCOPS Gets To Work

ORCOPS has been hard at work in the Capitol Building – we’re helping to shape legislation to make it more effective and we’re building bridges with allies. Much of our work so far in 2015 is about communicating that public safety is about much more than issues like police conduct or criminal law. Some of the bills we have engaged will show that law enforcement organizations have deep connections to their community.

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