Counties across the state must establish a deadly use of force planning authority, according to a law passed at the midnight hour of this year's legislative session.
"What will happen in the planning process, they will find out there is not an equal standard across the state when a controversial shooting happens," said state Sen. Margaret Carter, D-N.E. Portland, a sponsor of the bill, SB 111-C.
Each county's planning authority will consist of the district attorney; the sheriff; a non-management police officer and a private citizen, both selected by the district attorney and sheriff; a police chief selected by the county's chiefs of police; and a representative of the Oregon State Police appointed by the superintendent of Oregon State Police. This group must develop a plan to deal with training, incident response, investigation and district attorney's response for incidents involving the deadly use of force by police officers. The attorney general will review the plans, which will be public documents.
The Department of Justice will provide grants to cover up to 75 percent of the cost to develop such plans.
Because of the disagreements with conservative Democrats and Republicans, the new law lacks the transparency contained in earlier drafts of the bill. A portion of the bill allowing for public access to grand jury proceedings was removed as part of a last minute compromise.
Carter said she and state Sen. Avel Gordly, I-inner N/NE Portland, as well as others, had been pushing to get deadly use of force legislation passed for nearly six years. Still, she admitted that the bill was a "baby step" and anticipated more changes to come.
The law also mandates that police officers receive at least two sessions of paid mental health therapy, and not be put back on duty for at least 72 hours. Investigations into an officer-involved death must now include at least one officer from another department, although the law specifies that failure to comply does not mean evidence can be suppressed in court.