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Salem, Ore. – Today, the House Committee on Judiciary voted to pass legislation that will help stop profiling by law enforcement. House Bill 2355 requires law enforcement to begin collecting and retaining demographic data on all officer-initiated pedestrian and traffic stops. The bill will also require mandatory training in cultural competency and implicit bias for all state and local law enforcement officers in Oregon and establish a statewide system to hold law enforcement departments accountable for profiling practices.
Finally, the bill will also change state law to make small-scale possession of drugs a misdemeanor with access to treatment, instead of a felony, which carries steeper penalties that often result in the loss of housing, employment and social services that make it that much harder to beat addiction.
As strong advocates leading the fight to end police profiling in Oregon, Unite Oregon and the Fair Shot for All Coalition issued the following statement from Kayse Jama, Executive Director of Unite Oregon:
“Recognizing that police profiling is an epidemic that hurts people across the state, Oregon took an important step forward in 2015, joining more than 40 states to ban profiling. Unfortunately, making something illegal doesn’t mean it no longer happens. The harmful practice of profiling continues in our communities with Oregonians of color, low-income neighborhoods and LGBT people targeted most.
We cannot accept a system where every day, people are singled out based on their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, language, housing status, sexual orientation or gender identity—in the streets, in our schools, at public transit stops, and in our own neighborhoods.
Our coalition will not rest until our state has the right tools to adequately track profiling, the oversight to stop it when it occurs, and the training to prevent it from happening in the first place. We firmly believe that once this bill becomes law, we can put an end to police profiling once and for all. We thank the committee for voting in favor of the End Profiling Legislation.
We also know that we have much more work ahead of us in our fight to create a safer and more equitable state where people don't have to live in fear and entire communities aren't cast as suspect simply because of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or any other protected identities.