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Proponents from across the state highlighted the need for Oregon to join 22 other states in requiring law enforcement departments to collect profiling data and provide training
Salem, Ore.— Members of Oregon’s law enforcement community joined community groups and legislative leaders Monday before the House Committee on Judiciary to support a bill to curb the practice of police profiling in Oregon.
House Bill 2355 will require law enforcement departments to begin collecting and retaining standardized demographic data on all officer-initiated pedestrian and traffic stops. The bill also requires mandatory training in cultural competency and implicit bias for all state and local law enforcement officers in Oregon and establishes a statewide system to hold law enforcement departments accountable for profiling practices.
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, making it that much harder to beat addiction.
“While legislators banned police profiling in 2015, the truth is that it’s still happening in Oregon every day,” said Kayse Jama, executive director of Unite Oregon. “This is simply unacceptable. We need to the tools to adequately track the problem, the oversight to stop it when it occurs, and the training to prevent it from happening in the first place.”
In 2015, Oregon took an important step forward by joining more than 40 states to ban profiling. Despite this measure, profiling continues to occur and low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, and LGBT people are targeted the most.
Collecting better data in Oregon will institute a best practice already in place in law enforcement agencies around the country. According to the ACLU, 22 states, 4,000 cities—including over half of the 50 largest—and 6,000 police departments are now collecting stop and search data. In Oregon, the Oregon State Police and the Corvallis Police Department have begun to collect data on profiling, but there is currently no statewide requirement or system to do so.
“Put simply, The War on Drugs has failed,” said Amira Streeter, policy and advocacy director for the Urban League of Portland. “Our state’s current approach to drug enforcement has been ineffective and wasteful – the status quo has devastated our communities and had disproportionate impacts on of color and low-income Oregonians. It’s time to reform our drug policies to focus on what we know is effective: treatment, education and rehabilitation.”
More information about the legislative proposal to end profiling is available here: http://bit.ly/end_profiling