Portland Copwatch on Tuesday published their most recent count of Oregon law enforcement “use of force” incidents across the state, updating a spreadsheet of data they started compiling two years ago.
The nonprofit watchdog group released its newest numbers this week along with an open letter to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, urging her to compile such a list as was intended by passage of state legislation in 2007.
“Another year has passed and there were at least 25 more incidents, which we've integrated into our database, along with 5 incidents from 2013-2014 we discovered in the interim,” the letter says. “Below we have done analysis of the 141 incidents, which include 79 deaths that should be part of the AG's report.
“We believe with all the attention on a recent shooting in Oregon, now would be a good time for the AG to publish these numbers,” Copwatch says in their letter to Rosenblum.
The group referred to the shooting of LaVoy Finicum in Burns, Oregon last month, which is still under investigation.
In that case state officials are so worried about disclosing the name of the officer who killed Finicum, state legislators tried to pass a law allowing non-disclosure of the names of law enforcement officers involved in deadly force incidents.
In cooperation with Portland Copwatch, The Skanner has created an interactive map of their report, List of Law Enforcement Deadly Force Incidents in Oregon 2010-2015.
Researchers at the nonproﬁt compile information about deadly force incidents in Oregon using press reports and public documents on use of force incidents by any law enforcement jurisdiction anywhere in Oregon.
The Skanner is awaiting comment from the attorney general’s office about the new data.
As reported in The Skanner two years ago, Copwatch started gathering the data in response to concerns that Senate Bill 111 was not being upheld despite being passed into law in 2010.
As it happens, many lawmakers around Oregon had thought the Oregon State Department of Justice was compiling the statistics after a law was passed requiring it.
Portland Copwatch sent a public letter to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum in 2014, offering detailed statistics gathered through a review of press reports and asking the attorney general whether her department was compiling them as Senate Bill 111 required.
An examination by The Skanner at the time revealed current state ofﬁcials were unaware of the law’s provisions and were turning the statistics over to the department of data and statistics to be included in counts of all causes of death statewide.
Former state lawmakers who had passed the law expressed surprise that it was not being enforced for its intended purpose – use in creating law enforcement policy.
Back then, The Skanner ﬁrst put the group’s data about police use of force incidents together with location points for the incidents. Then we plotted them on a map.
Now we have updated that map with their most recent data, which we have independently veriﬁed and again posted to an interactive Google page.
Some of Portland Copwatch’s key 2016 findings include:
The data shows 6 of the 29 Portland shootings/deaths were of African Americans, accounting for 21 percent of victims “in a city that is 6 percent black.” Also, “At least 8 of the 142 suspects were African Americans, or 6 percent in a state which is 2 percent black.”
At least eight victims were primarily identified as military veterans in some kind of psychological crisis. “We are still unable to track how many of the suspects were in crisis,” the report says.
Only one law enforcement figure in the state, Portland Officer Dane Reister, has so far been indicted, and he committed suicide afterwards last May.
Read more about Portland Copwatch at Portlandcopwatch.org