Oregon PSR's Board President, Dr. Patrick O'Herron, submitted testimony on behalf of Oregon PSR about police accountability legislative concepts to the Oregon Legislature's Joint Committee On Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform on September 3rd, 2020. Read our testimony below.
Co-chairs Bynum and Manning and members of the committee,
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility strives to make the world more healthy, just, and peaceful by confronting the greatest threats to human health such as nuclear war and climate change. We understand that systemic racism has a disproportionate impact on the health and well being of people of color. This can be seen in the higher rates of death from COVID-19 in communities of color and most dramatically by the ongoing police violence and the police killing of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). The institution of policing is failing our communities in profound ways. The work done to advance police accountability is greatly appreciated but must be understood to be the start of a much deeper re-imagining and re-creation of policing in our society. We must demilitarize police, cut police budgets drastically, and reallocate those resources to areas such as education, housing, and health care which can foster true safety and security. The resource allocation should be concentrated in BIPOC communities which have borne the brunt of police brutality and under-investment over the years.
Oregon PSR supports legislative concepts 17,18, 19, and 20. Police misconduct records should be made public. Police should not be allowed to indiscriminately use crowd control weapons to disperse crowds. Citizens should have the right to sue for civil damages when they are harmed by police misconduct regardless of whether a riot has been declared. Police officers should be clearly identifiable by wearing visible identification and the identity of officers should not be kept secret from citizens. Use of force reports should be mandatory.
These legislative concepts are all important. We urge you to ensure that they contain robust enforcement provisions that will ensure long overdue police accountability. We urge you to pass them and view them as a first step towards re-imagining policing and implementing policies that will help create and protect healthy, thriving, and safe communities throughout the state.
Patrick O’Herron, MD
Oregon PSR Board President