By John Hummel

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Oregon’s anti-racial-profiling law was passed in 1987 with near unanimous support from both Republicans and Democrats, and it has worked well for more than three decades. This law provides clear guidance to local police officers and is focused on local communities.

As a district attorney, I was elected to keep the residents of Deschutes County safe. That’s my number one goal every day when I come to work and that’s why I’m urging you to vote no on Measure 105. We need to preserve Oregon’s anti-racial-profiling law because trust is the foundation of good policing.

Anyone who is a witness to or victim of a crime should feel empowered to come forward and report what they know. This happens in Deschutes County because we’ve devoted time and energy to establishing a trusting relationship with the public. People, generally speaking, feel safe working with local law enforcement regardless of their immigration status. This trusting relationship we’ve established with the public allows local law enforcement officers and attorneys in my office to hold perpetrators accountable, which makes criminals less likely to reoffend.

Imagine what it would be like if you were an undocumented immigrant and every time you considered reporting a crime to local law enforcement you thought you would be reported to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. What would you do? You would refrain from reporting. By eliminating Oregon’s anti-racial-profiling law, some members of our community will no longer feel safe coming to law enforcement with crime tips, concerns or reports. In turn, crime rates will go up, and we will be less safe.

That’s one reason why I strongly oppose Measure 105.

Another reason is resources — budget, personnel, facilities and equipment; they’re all stretched. Like other counties across Oregon, Deschutes County is doing more with less. My deputies are overworked and understaffed. We don’t complain; we just do our jobs. But adding a whole new element of enforcement to our workload — enforcing federal laws while also enforcing Oregon criminal laws — means we’ll either need a large tax increase to accommodate the change, or we’re going to have to cut services elsewhere. Neither option is a good one.

Currently, we arrest and prosecute undocumented immigrants who violate Oregon criminal laws. ICE doesn’t enforce Oregon criminal laws because they don’t have the training or the understanding of the needs of our local communities. My deputies and I, in turn, don’t have the training and experience in enforcing federal immigration law. If Measure 105 passed, we’d have to spend time doing the job federal officials are supposed to be doing, which means less time doing what’s most important — prioritizing your safety.

But it’s the domestic violence cases that most gnaw at me when I consider Measure 105. The survivors of domestic violence have to make heart-wrenching decisions regarding whether to report their abusers to the police. If they report, they do so for their kids and themselves and in turn they are helped by the attorneys and victims’ advocates in my office who are uniquely trained and qualified to do so. I’ve seen women who are absolutely terrified find their voice to hold their perpetrator accountable, protecting themselves, their children and other people from being further victimized. Their courage makes our whole community safer, but if Measure 105 is passed, many survivors of domestic violence will no longer feel safe coming forward.

Ballot Measure 105 is a bad idea, one that is based on fear and a lack of understanding of how law enforcement works on a local level. I strongly recommend that voters say “no” to Measure 105, for the sake of the safety of our community.

— John Hummel has been the Deschutes County District Attorney since 2015.

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