America has a serious problem occurring throughout our nation right now and unfortunately, we see it on the news every week. HB 2002 passed on the House Floor last week, attempting to address racial profiling.
In 1997, the Legislature passed HB 2433 that required all police agencies to develop a policy addressing personnel complaints from citizens and adopting racial profiling/professional policing concepts. The original law, established from HB 2433, was supposed to fix the problem in Oregon for racial profiling.
Obviously both bills recognize a serious problem that exists.
What the bill does:
HB 2002 creates two paths for reporting; the traditional filing of a personnel complaint by contacting the police department or by filing a complaint through the Law Enforcement Contacts Policy & Data Review Committee (LEC). Besides reporting in person or signing a complaint form, delivering it through mail, by hand, facsimile or electronic mail, a person can now telephone a complaint to the department anonymously or by a third party.
This bill also establishes the Law Enforcement Profiling Work Group. One of the charges given to the work group is to identify methods to address and correct patterns or practices of profiling. The work group is to report to the Judiciary Interim Committees no later than December 1, 2015.
Law Enforcement is only as effective as the support they receive from their community. The work group should consider concepts that break down racial barriers, improve relationships, and support community policing programs that work!
I supported this bill, however, I am concerned it is a band aid approach to a systematic problem.
Below are some of my concerns with the final draft:
1. The definition of police profiling is overly broad
Essentially, HB 2002 requires agencies to update their respective policies to reflect the new definition. The new definition includes nearly everything but the kitchen sink...
"Profiling" means that a law enforcement agency or law enforcement officer targets an individual for suspicion of violating a provision of law based solely on the real or perceived factor of the individual's age, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, language, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, political affiliation, relation, homelessness or disability, unless the agency or officer is acting on a suspect description or information related to an identified or suspected violation of the a provision of law.
2. Need for establishing community policing
This bill does not get to the real problems in interactions between police and some communities. Communication and connection are the tools needed in building bridges. As John Maxwell has said, "A leader touches a heart before he asks for a hand."
A.L. "Skipper" Osborne, former Portland Chapter President of NAACP once wrote, "The Police must meet with the community on a regular basis-not when there is a crisis but before there is a crisis. It is important that the police and community are honest and accountable to each other and build a relationship of trust. The police and community must share common goals of respect, cooperation and justice for all if community policing is to work in a free and multicultural society."
Although I am opposed to racial profiling, I support criminal profiling. The Department of Justice and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives developed the following definition which I agree with, "...racial profiling is any police-initiated action that relies on the race, ethnicity, or national origin rather than on the behavior of an individual..."
We can legislate all we want, but that is not going to change hearts. Click here to learn more.
Until next week,