The state should provide uniform mandatory training for police and track complaints more rigorously to combat racial or other bias-based profiling, a special task force recommends.

Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill in July that explicitly prohibits profiling by police, making Oregon the 31st state in the nation to do so.

The law defines profiling as law enforcement targeting a person based solely on age, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, language, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, political affiliation, religion, homelessness or disability.

The task force this week urged the Legislature to require that officers receive at least four hours of training on profiling every three years. It also urged police agencies to provide reports to a state committee on profiling complaints made against officers, if they did an investigation and what the outcome was.

The group — chaired by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum — called for all the complaint data, as well as police agencies’ data on officer-initiated stops of citizens, to go to the state Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division for review.

But the group didn’t call for police to be required to collect such data on police stops, in part citing concerns about lack of resources for smaller, rural departments.

Since 2001, only five Oregon police agencies — Beaverton police, Corvalis police, Eugene police, Hillsboro police and Oregon State Police – have voluntarily provided the data to the state.

But the information they collect and how they do it aren’t consistent, the task force report found.

Whether someone stopped by police was asked to be searched, consented to a search and if police found any contraband during such a search also was not consistently tracked, the group found.

The task force considered suggesting only certain agencies collect stop data, based on the population, ratio of officers-per-1,000 citizens and funding ability. The group also considered an incentive program that would award grants to agencies that choose to voluntarily collect the stop data. It cost Connecticut about $250,000 to adopt a statewide data collection system for police stops, the group found.

The task force made no firm recommendation on which agencies should collect the data and asked to continue working until 2017 to return to state lawmakers with more specific ideas.

Oregon’s attorney general doesn’t have statutory power to dictate local law enforcement policies – that’s up to individual cities and counties, the group’s report said.

But the state Justice Department’s civil rights division will have the power to review the information it receives and how agencies handled citizen complaints. The division has the authority to identify concerns and recommend that the attorney general find a pattern of profiling by a police agency, the report said.

“Over the past three months, the task force has worked very hard together to develop sensible recommendations to the Legislature which balance the needs of law enforcement with the community’s clear desire for transparency and accountability,” Rosenblum said in a prepared statement. “These recommendations provide the Legislature with a workable blueprint of next steps to continue the fight against profiling throughout the state.

The report’s seven recommendations follow:

  • Expand anti-profiling, inherent bias training for officers
  • Improve police response to citizen complaints about profiling
  • Have police agencies provide information on numbers of complaints received on profiling, how they handled complaints and the findings of investigations to the state Law Enforcement Contracts Policy and Data Review Committee
  • Draft model policies on how police should handle profiling complaints
  • Ensure all the police stop data collected by police agencies, and information on citizen profiling complaints, is submitted to the Oregon Department of Justice’s civil rights division for review.
  •  Encourage additional collection of data relating to police-citizen encounters
  • Require a state committee to create an annual public report based on police stop data and citizen complaints

— Maxine Bernstein

[email protected]
503-221-8212
@maxoregonian

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