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LEND Resolution
LeRon Howland Speech
Superintendent Howland emphasizes OSP's commitment
 
At a news conference conducted on Friday, April 9th, the Oregon State Police joined 23 other agencies and police unions in signing a Law Enforcement Non-Discrimination Resolution.  The resolution denounces "race-based profiling" and sends a strong message to all individuals (not just those who meet the legal definition of citizen) that using a badge for racially motivated conduct will not be tolerated by police administrators and union officials.  U.S. Department of Justice officials have indicated that this is the first time that police executives and union officials have worked together to develop such a proactive resolution. OSP´s partnership with other Departments in initiating the resolution broke national ground and was a first step in influencing other law enforcement entities throughout the state to publicly denounce race-based profiling.  The action was prompted in response to the perception among minorities that they get targeted disproportionately when officers make traffic stops or conduct criminal investigations.  Unfortunately, such a perception can result, in part, from a few, well-publicized, incidents that are highlighted in the media and may not, necessarily, accurately reflect the scope of the problem. There is a lot of damage that results when a racially motivated stop occurs.  As with the nature of any complaint, far more people are apt to share and hear information that affects them negatively, than to share positive experiences that they take for granted.
 
House Bill 2433 was passed in 1997 and expanded the authority of police officers to make crime prevention stops, conduct searches or seek consent to search. The legislation also required law enforcement agencies to report data to allow for legislative review of how the new authority is being used. Overall, the provisions of the bill increase officer safety and aid crime prevention. However, the bill also heightens concerns about innocent people being subjected to extensive detentions and intrusive searches that are inappropriately motivated by an officer´s perception of the person´s race, color, national origin or gender. A survey conducted for the Governor´s Public Safety Planning and Policy Council (HB 2433 Implementation Workgroup) determined that there doesn´t appear to be a worsening trend of unwarranted detentions and searches since implementation of HB 2433. It did show that minorities are much more likely than non-minorities to consider Oregon police officers unfair. On balance, Oregon police officers do an outstanding job upholding democratic policing principles, however, the survey emphasizes the need to continually work to improve interracial relationships.
 
As an agency, we have seriously addressed the perceptions and concerns associated with this controversial issue for years. Oregon is regarded as a lead state in preventing what has become known as race-based policing. Our multi-cultural training has been tailored to meet the needs of various community populations and is a core aspect of our curriculum.  Not only is it addressed in new recruit training, it is also emphasized in Instructor In-service and Ethics training and Coaches school. Most OSP instructors have been troopers who have risen through the ranks, and they are able to relay, through example, their own helpful experiences when dealing with minority contacts.
 
The Department has long mandated professional behavior in the manner in which we conduct traffic stops and other official contacts. We emphasize a professional demeanor through training such as Verbal Judo, Ethics, Search and Seizure, Patrol Tactics, Cultural Competency and others. Even with such rigorous training in place, it will also be important for a system of documentation to be created to publicly demonstrate that race-based profiling is not being practiced. Efforts are underway by law enforcement officials, civil rights leaders and civil liberties advocates to persuade the Oregon Legislature to support the allocation of $179,000 to create such a system. By equipping vehicles with video cameras and audio recording capabilities, for instance, law enforcement officials could ensure that traffic stop activity is adequately supervised and monitored. At present, there is limited information available that discloses the frequency of traffic stops; the characteristics of those who are stopped (especially in regards to race, gender and ethnicity); and the number and results of consent searches. Technology can help validate that our traffic stops are justified and conducted in compliance with sanctioned policies and procedures.
 
Other means can also be used to enhance communication and trust with minority groups and diminish misunderstanding. An aggressive, balanced, public information campaign that addresses safety strategies can help close communication gaps, and the Department can continue to manifest community policing relationships in the communities we serve.  Community involvement and education will be of paramount concern as we work to reassure the public that we do not condone, nor practice, race-base profiling.
 
With OSP´s heightened visibility regarding this matter, comes additional responsibility.  Publicly, the Department has announced our commitment to improve our community outreach efforts and interpersonal communications, regardless of an individual´s race, color, national origin or gender. I am confident that OSP employees will continue to exercise sensitivity and professionalism during all traffic stops and professional contacts, yet recognize that there is always room for growth and improvement. We must be constantly aware of how our unique life experiences affect our world view and filter our own perceptions. The nature of our work often makes us view the world through a "different lens." This sometimes-cynical lens, combined with the power inherent in police work, makes it critical that we continually assess our thoughts, feelings and behavior as we conduct our daily work.
 
As I mentioned during the press conference,
"race or ethnic-based policing is neither legal; consistent with democratic ideals, values or principles of American policing; nor in any way a legitimate and defensible policing strategy. It will not be condoned or tolerated by Oregon Police Officers."
 
It is imperative that we continue to safeguard the constitutional rights and safety of all citizens.  This can only be accomplished through continued open dialogue and discussion with minority and advocacy groups and by recognizing the important role that each of us plays, as individuals, in upholding these democratic principles.
 
Law Enforcement Non-Discrimination Resolution
WHEREAS, the Oregon legislature in 1997, by enacting House Bill 2433, expanded the authority of police officers to make stops, to ask about the presence of weapons, and to seek consent to search. With those law changes came the requirement that all Oregon law enforcement agencies adopt anti-discrimination policies.
 
WHEREAS, House Bill 2433 affords increased officer and community safety, it also requires police agencies to collect data and facilitate the reporting of complaints by individuals in our communities.
 
WHEREAS, we recognize that individuals in our community, particularly within communities of color, perceive that law enforcement officials engage in discriminatory enforcement. That perception and the underlying issue of discrimination is a community concern and it is a police concern.
 
WHEREAS, discrimination, real or perceived, is a heightened concern if police view race as a marker of suspicion and individuals of color become more vulnerable to routine questioning, traffic stops, and other unwanted attention from law enforcement. It follows then that unwanted attention creates an atmosphere of adversity and fear of police from law abiding people.
 
WHEREAS, we recognize that most individuals who serve in our state as our law enforcement officers, have not engaged in any discriminatory practices or acts, and further, they have carried out their official duties exceptionally well.  We also recognize the need to deal with any perceived or real discrimination.
 
THEREFORE, we are deeply committed to adhering to the provisions of House Bill 2433 by continuing our participation in an all-inclusive work group representing Oregon´s minority communities and criminal justice entities, by gathering complaint and traffic stop data, by conducting ongoing general population and minority community perception surveys, by enhancing our training and community outreach efforts, and by facilitating the reporting of complaints when a person feels wronged by the police.
 
THEREFORE, we take a strong stand against the practice of race-based profiling or any other type of discrimination within the scope of our daily contact with individuals in our communities, or anyone driving or moving about our roads, highways and neighborhoods.
 
THEREFORE, we do not train, teach, endorse, support or condone any type of race profiling by any law enforcement agency, or any other agency, or individual, acting in the name of law enforcement or public safety.
 
THEREFORE, the only valid police practices are those free of discrimination or suspicion engendered by race and that this expectation and right extends to all citizens of this state.
 
AND THEREFORE, we clearly declare that, except in extraordinary circumstances, police officers should not take race into account in determining whether individuals appear to be suspicious because the concept and practice of race-based profiling is counterproductive to good and professional police work and to the public safety of our communities.
 
Supporters Who Signed the Resolution:
  • Chief Dave Bishop, Beaverton P.D.
  • Chief Don Chaney, Camas P.D.
  • Sheriff Philip Derby, Columbia County S.O.
  • Acting SAC Phil Donegan, F.B.I.
  • Chief Robert King, Gladstone P.D.
  • Chief Bernie Giusto, Gresham P.D.
  • Chief Ron Louie, Hillsboro P.D.
  • Chief Les Youngbar, Lake Oswego P.D.
  • Chief Brent Collier, Milwaukie P.D.
  • Sheriff Dan Noelle, Multnomah County S.O.
  • Chief Robert Tardiff, Newberg P.D.
  • Chief Gordon Huiras, Oregon City P.D.
  • Superintendent LeRon Howland, O.S.P.
  • Chief Mike Brant, Port of Portland Police
  • Chief Charles A. Moose, Portland Police Bureau
  • Chief Mac Lockett, Portland School Police
  • Chief Roger Roth, St. Helens P.D.
  • Chief Bill Middleton, Sherwood P.D.
  • Chief Ron Goodpaster, Tigard P.D. & Tualatin P.D.
  • Chief Mark Berrest, Troutdale P.D.
  • Chief Doug Maas, Vancouver P.D.
  • Sheriff Jim Spinden, Washington County S.O.
  • Chief Terry Hart, West Linn P.D.
  • John Gruber, Deb Farland, Chuck Slaney
  • Joel Simmons, Bob Maple, Jerry Harris
  • Sam Urias, Darryl Wrisley
  • Christopher Wright, Karl Hutchison
  • Tom Perritt, Mike Jarvis, Jim Botwinis
  • Michael Brown, Greg Pluchos
  • Edgar Mitchell, Rick Graham
  • Dan Jacober, Rick Boothby
  • John Copeland, Steve Flores
  • Howard Anderson, Todd Duncan & Carl Witt