Oregon bill aims to pinpoint, eliminate police profiling

Salem, Ore. — A bill making it’s way through Salem could establish new state-wide policies and training for law enforcement. The proposal looks to eliminate profiling by requiring specific training while also keeping track of all police officer interactions; things some local departments already have in place.

“We have strict policies against racial bias-based policing,” Lt. Kerry Curtis of the Medford Police Department says, and he says the department’s officers revisit those policies during training every year.

“We really pride ourselves on treating the community, treating people fairly,” Lt. Curtis says.

A piece of legislation before Oregon lawmakers this session, would make similar training a requirement in every department throughout the state.

If passed, House Bill 2355 would require:

  • an educational program to reduce profiling for police and reserve officers at every level of training.
  • and would direct all agencies to begin  reporting data to the state about each and every pedestrian or traffic stop.

“When a trooper clears a traffic stop they indicate what their perceived perception of the race is,” Captain Bill Fugate of Oregon State Police says, “we don’t ask people.”

Other details they would report include gender, ethnicity, and the nature of the stop. A practice Oregon State Police already have in place, With a system its agency would spearhead if the bill passes.

“Currently we have about a million, over a million contacts in our database,” Capt. Fugate says, “if this bill was to pass other agencies would basically notify us of all their traffic stop data.”

Reporting data relating to the perceived appearance of people they contact would be something new for departments like Medford Police, but they say any addition that adds to the transparency of their work, is a welcome one.

“Those changes, [are] not so far fetched that it’s unreasonable for us to do that.” Lt. Curtis says, “other agencies are already doing that, and we’ll fall right in line with whatever we’re required by state law to do.”

The goal is for the data to be analyzed by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission which will look for any patterns of profiling and compile their findings in a public report.

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