SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon bill aimed at proving police accountability failed twice before. But now, it may have the momentum to become law after passing through the Oregon State Senate with unanimous support.
In Oregon, if a police officer commits misconduct, the police department hands down whatever discipline they see as appropriate. The officer can appeal the decision and have it put before an arbitrator. If the arbitrator determines a lesser discipline than the department, the department’s decision can be overturned.
Senate Bill 1604 aims to change that. It requires police departments and unions to have a set of guidelines for discipline measures instead of working on a case-by-case basis that can be clear, consistent, or transparent.
“This bill, simply, is about police accountability. It is about ensuring a level of confidence in our law enforcement, both from the public and within the agencies themselves,” said State Senator Lew Frederick. “Senate Bill 1604 goes hand in hand with the restorative justice commitments each of us have made to our constituents. It is clearer than ever that serious work is needed to improve trust and credibility in our law enforcement. When officers are not held accountable due to an inconsistent process, we directly work against building that trust.”
A similar bill passed through the Oregon State Senate twice before. However, they failed in the House. With the current political climate, Senate Democrats hope this time will be different.
“As the tragedy of police violence and racism has led to a national uprising, this legislation is broadly considered long overdue,” the Senate Majority said.
The legislation will move on to be considered by the House.