SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Senate on Friday unanimously passed a bill that makes it easier to uphold discipline against police by lessening the power of arbitrators.
The measure, which moves to the House, is one in a package of police reform measures before Oregon lawmakers during the special session that began this week. It passed the upper chamber following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed and died last month after a white Minneapolis police officer held a knee to his neck.
“This bill is a problem solving effort,” Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, said on the Senate floor. “It is an effort to create trust, fairness and transparency in government. This bill goes hand in hand in the procedural justice movement in 21st century policing and restorative justice commitments that have been made to our constituents.”
Currently, police unions can call upon an arbitrator to review discipline handed down to a police officer and overturn disciplinary decisions. Arbitrators have reversed high-profile officer dismissals in Oregon before.
Senate Bill 1604 restricts what arbitrators can do in disciplinary cases and binds them to rule within the discipline guide.
“The non-binding nature of agreed upon discipline guides, and the complete lack thereof, is a policy failure that we now have the opportunity to remedy,” Frederick said.
This is the third time the bill has passed in Senate, but during the two previous times came to a halt in the House of Representatives.
Lawmakers will discuss and vote on other reform bills throughout Friday, including restricting the use of chokeholds, creating a statewide online database of discipline records and requiring officers to intervene and report a fellow officer engaged in misconduct.