It’s remarkably easy in Oregon to find out when a doctor is disciplined. The Oregon Medical Board posts details on its website.
It’s remarkably easy in Oregon to find out when a nurse was disciplined. The Oregon Nursing Board posts details on its website.
It’s remarkably difficult in Oregon to track the details when a member of law enforcement is disciplined.
Does that make any sense?
Most doctors and nurses are not employed by government. Members of law enforcement are public employees. Why doesn’t the public have easy access to their disciplinary records?
If you are near a computer, you can go right now to the Oregon Medical Board website and find out details of disciplinary action against doctors.
It’s not only when doctors get their certification revoked, either. Sometimes it’s when they must modify their practice, such as being barred from prescribing opioids or practicing telemedicine.
It’s similar for the Oregon Nursing Board. Once again, the information does not only include if a nurse had his or her license revoked.
It can include details of if a nurse was terminated by an employer and what he or she must do while on probation.
It took The Oregonian two years — yes, two years — to get records from the state on cases in which state regulators investigated if an officer’s certification should be revoked.
The state agency threw up obstacle after obstacle to deny the request. First, it charged a small fortune. The state agency said The Oregonian had to pay $17,000.
We aren’t saying there isn’t a cost to providing the public with public information, but it should be included in the budget of state agencies. It’s part of their job.
That $17,000 wasn’t the end of the blockades the agency put up. For a more complete recounting, read the story www.oregonlive.com/police-fire/2017/12/police_discipline_records.html.
After that fight, some changes were made. And the state Board of Public Safety Standards and Training does make public decisions when it decides to revoke or not revoke the certification of police officers.
But the details are far from easily accessible.
The problems are not limited to the state board.
If an officer is disciplined for inappropriate conduct by his or her local department for, say, use of force, why isn’t that easily available to the public?
If a law enforcement agency or its insurance company must pay a settlement for an incident, shouldn’t the details be required to be publicly released?
Requiring body cameras and banning chokeholds only go so far. The public must be able to hold law enforcement accountable.
That means disclosure of when disciplinary actions were taken and not taken and the related investigations.