Draft rules released to govern police conduct in Oregon
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A proposed set of conduct and discipline standards applicable to all law enforcement agencies in Oregon were published Monday.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reports in several instances, the commission charged with establishing the new rules left room for officers found to have committed serious, often illegal offenses to keep their jobs. For example, officers who commit sexual assault or intentional physical assault may not be fired if there are mitigating factors.
“The butt is considered a sexual part of the body,” said Mark Makler, a former prosecutor who represents police unions and officers, at a meeting on June 30. “So grabbing somebody’s butt in gest or horseplay could be considered a sexual assault.”
Makler and seven other commissioners who were present at that meeting voted against making sexual assault an automatically fireable offense.
“There are things like state of mind or absence of intent that could come into play. Or degree of harm,” Portland Police Association attorney Anil Karia said. “There are nuances in this.”
The commission was formed with the passage of HB 2930 in 2021, one of several pieces of legislation passed last year tackling police accountability and reform.
“The goal…was to have clarity,” bill sponsor Rep. Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas said in an interview with OPB. “Officers like to have clarity, some level of certainty about what the standards are.”
By having one statewide set of guidelines, Bynum explained, officers who have discipline problems in one local department can’t transfer to a different agency that has lower standards.
Over the course of 13 meetings since early March, the group hammered out standards on a range of issues from unjustified use of force to assault to targeting someone based solely on their race, gender or other protected status.
The commission will hold a series of public hearings throughout August and ending Sept. 16. They will then consider the public’s comment and make any changes before the rules take effect on Oct. 1.