The Last Week of the 2015 Legislative Session

The Legislature is looking to make this the last week of the 2015 Legislative Session.  They will work throughout the Independence Day weekend in an effort to complete their business by Sunday, July 5th.  What that means for us is that our bills are starting to pass as the Legislature tries to finish up its business.  Here are a few of the ORCOPS-supported items moving this past week:

HB 2002, the profiling bill, passed the Legislature earlier last week and is expected to be signed shortly by Governor Brown. ORCOPS was very involved in its crafting, along with other stakeholders, advocates, and lawmakers. On Thursday on the Senate Floor, ORCOPS was specifically thanked for our work on this measure.

HB 2357, to allow officers to carry weapons while off-duty, passed the Legislature unanimously last week after several technical adjustments to address concerns with another part of the bill.

HB 2463, which will facilitate the removal of derelict structures from public waterways, was briefly in limbo when the Senate and House both passed different versions of the bill. ORCOPS attended the “conference committee” hearing (where both House members and Senators try to work out a compromise), and urged legislators to come to a consensus. The House opted to adopt the Senate version and the bill is now on its way to the Governor’s desk.

And HB 2621, which authorizes the City of Portland to operate photo radar on certain high-crash corridors, passed the Senate late last week after a close House vote lastTuesday.

In terms of other bills, SB 822 (providing for recording of grand jury proceedings) is not moving this session. ORCOPS opposed this bill because there is a clause that subjects police officers’ proceedings to special release provisions that the general public is not subject to. We believe this creates a double-standard. However, this concept will probably be re-attempted next year. We have reached out to supporters of the measure in the hopes that the 2016 version will not include that double standard.

It’s been a banner first Legislative Session for ORCOPS, but there’s still a lot of ground to cover.  As the 2015 session winds down we’re already planning for 2016 and beyond!

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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Oregon Legislature Wrapping Up

You can tell that the Legislature is getting closer to wrapping up session: they’ve started shutting down committees. On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee both wrapped up their business and had their last meetings of the session. Other committees will follow shortly, because with a few exceptions, all bills need to be out of committee by the end of the week.

That means Senate Bill 87, which would have chipped away at veterans’ preferences, is officially dead for this session. (Even though the committee will probably continue to discuss “clarifying” the law and may have a different version introduced in 2016.)

Meanwhile, House Bill 2357, allowing off-duty officers the ability to carry their weapons, is on its way to the Senate floor with a unanimous recommendation from Senate Judiciary. Also heading to the Senate floor is House Bill 2571, which establishes body camera standards – and still includes ORCOPS’ preferred amendments.

House Bill 2704 would allow individuals to record on-duty police officers and was improved earlier this week to prohibit long-range or surreptitious recording. That bill, with those amendments, is heading to the Senate floor for a vote as well.

Two bills supported by ORCOPS are on their way to Governor Brown’s desk to be signed into law: First is House Bill 2208, the public records loophole fix. Once signed, this bill will take effect immediately. Law enforcement can also contact their county to request that their personal information remain exempt from public records requests. Stop by the ORCOPS website to learn more >>> Protect Your Personal Information.

Governor Brown will also sign Senate Bill 943, which provides that a county cannot charge extra fees to a non-resident officer who registers his or her vehicle at a precinct address. However, because the Legislature did not declare an “emergency” with regard to this policy, we can expect it to take effect January 1, 2016.

ORCOPS is still working on several bills that will likely pose a threat right up until the final days. You may recall Senate Bills 822 and 871, both of which contain some acceptable and some unacceptable provisions regarding grand jury processes. These bills are in the Joint Ways & Means Committee, and as such are exempt from most deadlines. However, the Legislature must wrap up ALL business by July 11 – according to the Oregon Constitution. (Although it’s more likely to end a week or so earlier.)

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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New Legislation Spearheaded by ORCOPS

HOUSE BILL 2208

Several weeks ago, ORCOPS was made aware of a concerning development regarding the disclosure of officers’ personal information. A local paper submitted a public records request for officer information, including dates of birth and social security information. Ordinarily, this material would be protected from disclosure, but the request was made to the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), and there was ambiguity over whether the information was exempt from the request. The Department of Justice ordered (some of) the material released, but DPSST is currently fighting that order in court.

In the meantime, ORCOPS jumped into action in Salem in order to close this loophole. Because the Legislative Session was already in full swing, ORCOPS’ staff and lobbyist worked to identify several bills that could be amended with a simple fix to closing the loophole. We then worked through the State House and Senate Judiciary Committees to amend House Bill 2208.  That bill passed the Legislative process yesterday, along with our amendments. It will become effective once it is signed by Governor Brown.

ORCOPS took action immediately because this loophole would have potentially allowed individuals to obtain officer dates of birth. That information could then be used to obtain an officer’s home address and household information from the voter registration database. Our quick efforts means this loophole was closed in about a month.

ADDITIONAL WAYS TO PROTECT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

Under existing laws, counties of residence shield public safety officers’ home addresses and telephone information from public records requests, but this can only be done at the request of the officer. In addition to our work in Salem, ORCOPS urges officers to use these existing tools to protect their information. Ask your local county Assessor and Clerk to protect your personal information in voter registration and property records.

To find your county contact information, go to >>> ORCOPS: Protect Your Personal Information

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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Important Bills Moving Through the Legislature

With about six weeks left in the current session, we’re seeing a number of bills important to ORCOPS moving through the Legislature.

House Bill 2208
began as a way to grant public records protections to code enforcement officers, but we recently discovered a loophole in current records protections related to law enforcement officer dates of birth. ORCOPS worked with other law enforcement interests to add a provision to HB 2208 that protects officers’ personal information held by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST).  The bill has been amended and will soon be reprinted as HB 2208-A. The bill has already been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and now heads to the Senate floor for a vote which will probably take place next week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also considered HB 2571, related to the use of body cameras. The bill will likely get a small technical adjustment to the records retention language. Once the adjustment is made, this bill will be ready to go. The Senate Judiciary Committee is likely the last point for public comment on the measure. Once it heads to the Senate floor, no additional committee hearings are needed. When the bill passes, local law enforcement agencies will be able to decide whether they want to use body cameras and, if so, use the State legislation as a guide to develop their own rules and policy regarding body cameras.

House Bill 2357 allows honorably retired and off-duty officers to carry their weapons, and is scheduled to pass out of committee next week. Senator Burdick (D – Portland) requested an amendment to provide that retired officers would still be able to lose that privilege in the same manner as an individual would lose CHL privileges. ORCOPS is in support of the underlying bill and we’ll be monitoring it as it moves along.

Do you register your personal vehicle at your precinct rather than your home? Does the county where your precinct is charge additional fees for that registration that you wouldn’t have to pay if you registered at home? Well, if SB 943 passes, that won’t be a problem anymore. The bill recently passed unopposed out of the House Transportation Committee and is headed to the House floor.

We’ve got a very active Twitter @OregonCOPS and facebook.com/orcops page, too. If you haven’t “liked” our page, take a moment and check it out.  And follow us on Twitter as well.

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

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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Emerging Issues as the Legislative Session Soldiers On

As the Legislative session soldiers on, several emerging issues have kept us busy over the past week.

First and foremost, the Oregonian issued a public records request for officers’ dates of birth. Had they made the request directly to a law enforcement agency, it would have been denied. However, by directing their request to the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), the Department of Justice determined that there was enough ambiguity in public records law to support the release. This is a clear and unreasonable invasion of privacy. While DPSST is fighting the release, ORCOPS is working on a legislative fix. The relationship-building work we’ve done throughout this session is allowing us to team up with other law enforcement and labor organizations to close this loophole. Senator Prozanski (D – Eugene), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has a bill in his committee that we will try to amend on Monday, May 18. Representative Jeff Barker (D – Aloha) and his staff have been busy getting these amendments drafted – as well as some backup options.

ORCOPS is also continuing our work with legislators and the Bureau of Labor and Industries to block Senate Bill 87-A, which starts dismantling veterans’ hiring and promotion practices. There has been a sense among legislators that the current law needs clarification, but also that veterans’ preference should be preserved. Representative Julie Parrish (R – West Linn) has been a strong supporter on this issue, and sits on the House Committee where the bill will be heard on Tuesday, May 19. ORCOPS is hoping to provide that clarification by adding an amendment to the bill, turning “SB 87-A” into “SB 87-B”. (So don’t be alarmed if some version of the bill passes!)

There has still been no action scheduled on Senate Bill 822 (grand jury recordings with special release provisions for police officers) or Senate Bill 871 (requiring all use of deadly force incidents to go to grand jury), but we fully expect these bills to be considered soon in the Ways & Means Committee.  Representative Jennifer Williamson (D – Portland) co-chairs the committee, and has worked well with ORCOPS on profiling and bodycam issues. We are maintaining close communications with her on these bills, but no commitments have been made yet.

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

Daryl Turner, President
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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3 Big Issues for ORCOPS

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
ORCOPS
503.757.8401

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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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