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: 398262

Reported Deaths: 5318
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah61268858
Washington42807409
Marion40454521
Clackamas33383393
Lane30600364
Jackson25322365
Deschutes24107198
Umatilla15191184
Linn15044187
Douglas13690298
Josephine10414250
Yamhill9934145
Klamath9149153
Polk8409104
Benton626040
Malheur594693
Coos5878109
Columbia443156
Jefferson427868
Lincoln369955
Crook346858
Union342857
Wasco321147
Clatsop266835
Baker223434
Tillamook221447
Hood River218937
Morrow199425
Curry194639
Harney122333
Grant109216
Lake106519
Wallowa76513
Sherman1953
Gilliam1864
Wheeler1201
Unassigned00

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Cases: 5138995

Reported Deaths: 75080
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles154020027275
San Diego4135824357
Riverside3920205397
San Bernardino3791076007
Orange3373285796
Sacramento1703432467
Kern1593361855
Fresno1584502289
Santa Clara1540471941
Alameda1264451513
San Joaquin1085901839
Ventura1051271194
Contra Costa1048151058
Stanislaus924201441
Tulare871361103
San Francisco57584676
San Mateo56974631
Monterey53040631
Solano48111365
Santa Barbara47954556
Merced45572675
Sonoma43725414
Placer42858479
Imperial39228778
Kings35628372
San Luis Obispo31844361
Madera26567315
Shasta26397465
Butte25731324
Santa Cruz22609224
Yolo21840263
Marin18796249
El Dorado18569170
Sutter14710186
Napa13528107
Yuba1087191
Humboldt10391120
Tehama10339133
Nevada10218105
Mendocino877599
Lassen801259
San Benito796780
Tuolumne785191
Lake7079113
Amador584969
Siskiyou481057
Glenn460536
Calaveras451088
Del Norte381942
Colusa330221
Inyo260246
Plumas196912
Mono19414
Mariposa164018
Trinity102417
Modoc7966
Sierra2220
Alpine1080
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