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First police accountability bill passes Oregon Senate with unanimous support

The first in a series of bills aimed at creating greater law enforcement accountability passed the Oregon Senate with full bipartisan support.

Posted: Jun 26, 2020 2:03 PM

SALEM, Ore. — The first in a series of bills aimed at creating greater law enforcement accountability passed the Oregon Senate with full bipartisan support on Friday. Along with COVID-19 response measures, police accountability bills were supposed to form the core of legislation when Governor Kate Brown called the 2020 special session.

Senate Bill 1604 changes how law enforcement disciplinary actions are handled, limiting the possibility that those decisions are later reversed.

Under current law, police agencies can make a disciplinary decision if an officer is found to have committed misconduct. However, the officer can appeal that decision and move toward binding arbitration — and if the arbitrator decides on a lighter punishment, it will completely overturn the department's decision.

"This inconsistency presents legal challenges and confusion. It has also put the public at risk," Senate Democrats said in a statement.

With the new legislation, disciplinary action taken by the arbitrator must remain consist with the agency's decision, as long as the police department and union have agreed on a discipline guide during the collective bargaining process.

“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 Senator Lew Frederick, D-Northeast Portland, a key champion of the bill. “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.”

The bill also requires that a law enforcement agency work out a discipline guide in collective bargaining, ensuring that all parties involved know the consequences for misconduct.

“This bill is a start and it’s an important start. We have more work to do and I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to continue to address law enforcement accountability and improve justice for all Oregonians,” said Senator Frederick.

SB 1604 is one of a half-dozen police accountability bills under consideration during the special session, though others are more complex and may lead to greater disagreement. This bill passed on Friday with unanimous bipartisan support.

“This arbitration bill is an important fix to prevent union interference in law enforcement discipline, and as Senator Frederick said on the Floor, it is a good start to creating trust, fairness and transparency,” said Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod, R-Stayton. “This bill should have been passed by the House of Representatives twice, but was blocked by the Speaker of the House and her caucus.”

The statement from Senate Democrats agreed that a similar bill had passed the Senate twice, but did not address why it had failed to pass the House.

SB 1604 now goes to the House for consideration.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 154878

Reported Deaths: 2206
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31824528
Washington21099212
Marion18373285
Clackamas13328175
Lane10200126
Jackson8315111
Umatilla763982
Deschutes593459
Yamhill376764
Linn357756
Malheur334458
Polk303942
Klamath278455
Douglas244754
Josephine232849
Benton232516
Jefferson195128
Coos144019
Union128119
Columbia124821
Wasco122026
Lincoln112820
Hood River106429
Morrow104614
Clatsop7756
Crook77518
Baker6507
Curry4246
Tillamook4142
Lake3746
Harney2736
Grant2221
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 3559311

Reported Deaths: 51794
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles118923221241
Riverside2894503767
San Bernardino2860772783
Orange2607213982
San Diego2589823260
Santa Clara1102371777
Kern102627811
Fresno950151422
Sacramento929611464
Alameda802791241
Ventura77395834
San Joaquin665691082
Contra Costa62164674
Stanislaus55887946
Tulare47784746
Monterey42138327
San Mateo38872515
San Francisco34138398
Santa Barbara31763407
Solano30024164
Merced28915395
Sonoma28004298
Imperial26855589
Kings21951218
Placer19763232
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15414209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12787185
Shasta10969174
Butte10922160
El Dorado9095100
Napa899869
Sutter884597
San Benito575259
Yuba573336
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Tuolumne394659
Nevada394074
Mendocino379643
Amador344841
Humboldt318033
Lake314140
Glenn221923
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128736
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3957
Trinity3675
Sierra990
Alpine810
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