The second half of the Legislative Session in Salem is either picking up steam or circling the drain, depending on which bills you’re watching. Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed House Bill 2571, which establishes minimum standards for when local agencies opt to use body cameras. There is now a provision in the bill that ensures that footage is released to the public only in very narrow circumstances, and that all faces are blurred in whatever footage is released given privacy and safety concerns for officers and their families.
In terms of ORCOPS’s priorities, there are three big issues still up in the air for us:
1. Senate Bill 316 was a simple bill about privacy of data on electronic devices for most of the session, but was suddenly amended into a bill that allows for polygraph examinations of new police officer applicants. The bill now heads to the House Judiciary committee, and ORCOPS is confident about stopping this invasive provision.
2. Senate Bill 822 and Senate Bill 871 attempt to address grand jury and investigation processes. SB 822 would call for the recording of grand jury proceedings, and provide those recordings to defense attorneys. However, the bill also contains special provisions for releasing those records only when “public servants” (police officers) are not indicted. Aside from being an unproductive and sensational provision, this sets a precedent of creating a separate justice system for police officers. Along those lines SB 871 includes a provision that would remove District Attorney discretion in cases where a police officer used deadly force, and mandates such cases are presented to grand juries. Alone, these provisions in SB 822 and 871 are bad enough, but combined it creates a media circus atmosphere around police work. ORCOPS is working hard to ensure that these provisions don’t move forward.
3. Senate Bill 87 is pitched as a “clarification,” but in reality chips away at veterans’ preferences by giving broad discretion to employers in order to apply or not apply preferences as they see fit. ORCOPS is working with the Bureau of Labor and Industries to lobby hard against this bill, and change it to an actual clarification of existing law by adopting the 87-1 amendments.
Other bills are moving forward – both ORCOPS’ own priorities and various compromises. House Bill 2357, allowing officers to carry their weapons when off-duty, passed the House and has its (hopefully) final hearing on Thursday May 14. Senate Bill 943 will prevent counties from charging an extra vehicle registration fee to non-residents who register their personal vehicle at a precinct address.
Additionally, many other bills that ORCOPS had strong concerns about are no longer viable. This list includes bills that would require the Attorney General to investigate use of force complaints, capping PERS final salaries at $100,000, impeding officers’ ability to conduct consent searches, and a dangerous revision of use of force standards.
Contact me if you have any questions or comments regarding our ORCOPS activities.
Daryl Turner, President