State capitol building Salem Oregon.

The home of the Oregon Legislature.

A bill in the Oregon Legislature that would strengthen an officer’s duty to report a colleague’s misconduct has gained support of law enforcement leaders following amendments, though not all police agencies are on board.

Officers in Oregon are required by law to report another officer’s misconduct if they witness it, but there is no requirement that agencies investigate that allegation. House Bill 2929 would require an investigation be conducted within three months of a misconduct report.

Additionally, the proposed law also would require officers to make a report if they develop concerns about a colleague’s physical, intellectual or moral fitness for the job — for instance, if they notice a drug addiction or mental imbalance.

Supporters include Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, who has written to members of the county’s legislative delegation urging support.

“To someone who does not support this bill, I would like to know, do they want officers with low moral fitness to be on the street?” Hummel said. “If their answer is no, well why the hell wouldn’t you want a fellow officer to report them?”

The original version of the bill, introduced in January by Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas, was opposed by groups representing Oregon’s police chiefs and sheriffs, and also Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson, who testified against the bill earlier this year. Specifically, Nelson and the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association had asked that the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries not be the agency that maintains a searchable database of public police misconduct allegations.

The database requirement was subsequently taken out of the bill — information on misconduct allegations would now be subject to a public records request instead.

In light of the change, a spokesperson for Nelson said he has dropped his opposition. Several law enforcement groups remain opposed to HB 2929, however, including the Oregon Fraternal Order of Police and the Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs.

Dan Thennell, an attorney representing the fraternal order, expressed skepticism about the legislation, specifically the proposed requirements to publicly disclose misconduct allegations, saying bad information had been used to justify it.

“Facts matter to us as I’m sure they do to members of the Legislature,” Thennell said. “What is happening in law enforcement is startling. Good officers are leaving and going to other states, positions are staying unstaffed because good applicants are not applying, officers in all corners of the state are demoralized.”

HB 2929 passed the House of Representatives unanimously, and it’s currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

There are seven other police reform bills still alive this legislative session:

• House Bill 2513 would require police officers to be trained and certified in CPR.

• House Bill 2936 would declare that racism has no place in policing and require potential officers to submit to background checks, including review of their social media accounts.

• House Bill 3047 would establish a civil cause of action for improper disclosure of personal information.

• House Bill 3059 would remove the requirement that officers arrest people for unlawful assembly.

• House Bill 3273 would restrict the release of jail booking mugs.

• House Bill 3355 would require officers patrolling large cities to wear identifying information on their uniforms.

• House Bill 3164 would prohibit charging a person interfering with an officer if they are already being charged with another offense for the same conduct.

Reporter: 541-383-0325,

gandrews@bendbulletin.com

(4) comments

Janus81

This package of bills is nothing but "virtue signalling." What about requiring teachers to rat out sexual predators in their midst? How about lawyers telling truth about corrupt lawyers? Nobody will want to be a cop, and we will descend back into the first half of the 20th Century, when most lecal police departments recruited the biggest, meanest high school bullies to the force.

MF

Janus, I could go for some self policing in other professions. Why not? BTW, are you denigrating virtue signaling? Isn’t that what we were raised to do? Or has virtue gone the way of the dodo bird?

MF

Dan Thennell, an attorney representing the fraternal order said they are moving quickly to weed out bad officers... oh wait a minute. No he didn’t.

mregan1123

Why is Dan Thennell skeptic? He is currently representing two Redmond Police officers in lawsuits against a Redmond Police Lt and the Department.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.