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Oregon Legislature is Considering Bills to Increase Police Accountability

Responding to widespread concern about the need to hold police accountable, two House Bills have been introduced by Legislators that could potentially save lives, provide justice to deceased victims, and lay the foundation for improved policing.

House Bill 3145 responds to recommendations regarding provision of public defense services, and requires Oregon’s Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) to maintain records of all complaints filed against police officers.

This bill will require that DPSST keep records regarding violent and deadly altercations between officers and citizens, and that disciplinary actions will be maintained in a database, paving the way for parties to gain access to documentation of instances when officers lose their job as a result of abuse.

House Bill 2930 will require documents of law enforcement misconduct and will permit information regarding the actions of police officers to be made available to the public. With the help of this bill, law enforcement’s actions will not be withheld in case of future prosecution.

Oregon has a long history of citizens being unjustly slain as a result of police brutality. Officers often avoid significant consequences. Evidence of police brutality often does not see the light of day; Oregon is one of few states that still prevents the public from obtaining key evidence of police misconduct and discipline.

Predictably, the police unions oppose reform legislation such as this, seeking to maintain the status quo in which officers are rarely held accountable for their misconduct. If the needed reforms are implemented, the public may increase confidence that law enforcement will serve the entire community.

If officer disciplinary cases are documented and made available, a more healthy balance of trust will be gained from the public, and law enforcement will be judged based on objective evidence. Police officers will be held accountable for their actions, which will bring benefits to the entire community.

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