ORCOPS On The Front Lines In Salem

ORCOPS was active in Salem this past week, both pushing good policy forward and defending against bad policy.

The week started with a roundtable discussion organized by Senator Floyd Prozanski (D – Eugene), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to help determine the Judiciary agenda for the balance of the 2017 Legislative Session. ORCOPS represented line officers and deputies among a group that included Chiefs and Sheriffs, the Oregon Defense Attorneys Association, and the ACLU. While agreement among this group has been mixed on a wide array of issues, ORCOPS has built relationships based on mutual respect and candidness and works well with these stakeholders, even when strongly disagreeing.

SB 352, which would prohibit consent searches unless a person was specifically informed of their ability to refuse the search, will not be passing in the 2017 session thanks to the stalwart opposition of several law enforcement groups. We do expect the ACLU to develop an alternate proposal for future sessions, so it is important to remain vigilant.

SB 642, a measure pushed by ORCOPS that would prevent local agencies from using peer-to-peer comparisons of citation issuance to evaluate performance, is still under consideration. However, the Chiefs and Sheriffs associations have been given some time to consider what adjustments they would like to see in the measure. Those associations have suggested a simple ban on quotas, but ORCOPS contends that would be functionally meaningless without also banning peer-to-peer comparisons. ORCOPS is the only law enforcement group that has been pushing this measure.

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings on three measures last week that would drastically affect interactions with minors.

  • HB 2718 would prohibit officers from interviewing a minor until the minor had consulted with an attorney. The measure would not allow that requirement to be waived, even by the minor’s parents or guardians.
  • HB 3242 would require all custodial interviews with minors be recorded electronically, but does not provide any funding for equipment, nor does it provide for unanticipated circumstances. ORCOPS-endorsed Rep. Andy Olson (R – Albany), a 29-year veteran with the Oregon State Police, did an excellent job outlining the challenges of this measure, especially in rural areas of the state.
  • HB 3244 would prohibit officers from utilizing “deceit, trickery, or artifice” when conducting interviews. An amendment to that bill would even further prohibit officers from implying or suggesting that cooperation could lead to leniency. The measure is poorly defined, to say the least — no one was able to provide a legal definition of “artifice”.

Opposing the bills was only a panel of ORCOPS (representing line officers and deputies), Sheriff Jason Myers of Marion County (representing both the Chiefs and Sheriffs associations), and Kurt Miller (a DPSST trainer representing the Oregon District Attorneys Association). The panel pointed out that as “best practices” are organically moving in these directions, it would be better to allow local law enforcement agencies to develop these practices on their own rather than impose hard-and-fast statewide mandates. Subsequent discussions with committee members have indicated that these measures are unlikely to move forward.

ORCOPS also made sure to publicly back SB 712, which provides PERS time credit for officers who are injured on duty and receive workers’ compensation benefits. This bill fixes a serious inequity within tier-3 PERS (OPSRP) where someone injured on the job and collecting workers comp currently doesn’t receive time credit for the period between the injury and their return to work. ORCOPS joined with the Oregon State Fire Fighters Council and the Oregon State Police Officers Association to testify in favor of this. State Trooper Nic Cederberg and Fire Fighter Council member Peter St. John provided some riveting testimony that we hope will lead to the quick passage of SB 712. This bill and Rep. Margaret Doherty’s (D – Tigard) HB 2646 are identical, but SB 712 seems to be the one that will go through, with HB 2646 held in reserve in case it becomes necessary.

Finally, as PERS discussions continue, you can use this tool to calculate the hit on your PERS retirement under the so-called PERS “reform” bills circulating through the Legislature.

Stay tuned for more updates in the coming weeks on PERS “reforms” as well as resolution on profiling policies.

Stay safe out there.

Daryl Turner, President
Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs