Note from Councilor Groves: Reform yes, defund and render ineffective no. While I eagerly await the discussion about the Ad Hoc Committee's recommendations on police policy reform, I enter the conversation with support for some of the recommendations, but concern and reservation for others. My hope is that this will be a broad based discussion with a lot of input from the general public.
Police reform underway
How is Eugene progressing on policy recommendations?
Eugene Register-Guard USA TODAY NETWORK
While Eugene has implemented some police policy changes from a citizen panel, others could take some time.
City Manager Sarah Medary gave a short update on the city’s progress determining what it would take to implement 50 recommendations from the Ad Hoc Committee on Police Policy.
Medary and other staff membersplanned to use a matrix to sort the recommendations and tell the City Council necessary steps to implement recommendations, but the discussion became complex enough that the team shifted gears, she said.
“What’s really emerged as the easiest way to sort things is by the path that it needs to follow if it’s going to change,” Medary said. “And so that really kind of became, you know, keeping them just in the order they’re at and the way that they’re in the report, but they’re kind of bundled in this pathway.”
She presented a spreadsheet that indicates the path forward and status of work on each recommendation. The spreadsheet also includes links to useful meetings, policies and laws and
includes clarifying notes in some cases.
Officials have said before that they understand people want to see quick movement but these policy changes are something the city shouldn’t do quickly or cheaply.
“It’s just too important that we get it right,” Councilor Randy Groves said.
It likely will take “a lot more time,” Councilor Emily Semple added.
“This is really complicated. The things that we could do right away, we’ve done,” she said. “But wow, there were 14 that needed more analysis. These aren’t easy, quick things.”
What are the recommendations?
There are 50 recommendations for changes within the Eugene Police Department across five different categories.
- Use of Force: Recommendations include overhauling the crowd control policy, limiting the use of chemical weapons, revising policies on duty to intercede and de-escalation, and demilitarizing uniforms and equipment.
- Hiring and Training:Recommendations include reviewing policies and practices to foster an inclusive workplace, improving bias assessment and anti-bias training, and hiring an equityfocused staff member
- Community Oversight:Recommendations include giving the Civilian Review Board the ability to get more evidence, specifying CRB members should not be currently or previously employed by EPD and creating a public database of police stops.
- Body-worn Cameras:Recommendations include not muting or editing footage from body-worn cameras, lobbying the state to make footage public record and storing footage externally from the department.
- Independent Investigation and Prosecution: Recommendations include giving the CRB its own investigative team and investigative powers, having civilian prosecutors handle cases of potential criminal misconduct by police and lobbying for various changes to state law The new matrix presented last week separates two recommendations into different parts based on both city and state rules needing to change, so it has updates for 52 proposals.
Which ones are completed?
Some recommendations were already part of policy or are now reflected in police policy after votes by the city’s Police Commission:
- Overhaul EPD crowd control policy — updated in late 2021
- Limit the use of chemical weapons — updated in late 2021
- Track all threats of the use of force — updated over the summer
- Store body-worn and dashboard camera footage externally — video already was stored in cloud, and employees are prohibited from purging or editing h Ban seizure of cellphone without warrant or consent — was already policy hGive community input into vetting new technologies — the Police Commission, a citizen body, provides input
- Allow the Citizen Review Board to consider an entire event when looking at potential police misconduct — the CRB already receives all relevant documents.
How many are in progress?
Just two recommendations are identified as being in progress, but several others are under review.
The city is in the process of expanding the community service officer program and initiating a study on alternative responses to sworn officers.
EPD also is working to implement the recommendation to hire an equity-focused staff member. According to the simplified matrix, the department is preparing a description and scope of work for the position.
A handful of other recommendations that would involve internal policy changes are under review:
- Demilitarize uniforms and equipment — city is reviewing Community Service Officer uniforms
- Increase accountability during stops — updating policy to comply with a new state law that adds more accountability
- Prohibit muting and editing of body-worn camera footage — a policy update is imminent but needs to be discussed with the police union
- Revise the de-escalation policy — police commission will review, already needs to be revised to comply with new state law
- Create unreasonable force policy
- Revise duty to intercede policy — updates underway to comply with new state law
Many others need additional analysis
Staff are still working to analyze the path forward for more than a dozen recommendations.
Five might coordinate with an existing Police Commission workplan item:
- Evaluate EPD training programs from perspective of diversity, equity and inclusion
- Review engagement with marginalized groups
- Reviewing policies and practices for how they help foster a diverse workplace
- Improve bias assessment and antibias training Four are waiting for the state to develop standards after law changes, with those expected by Oct. 1:
- Create a disciplinary matrix for body-worn camera policy
- Review officer evaluation metrics
- Create an overall disciplinary matrix
- Incorporate procedural justice into the internal disciplinary matrix.
Another six are waiting on analysis for various reasons:
- Create a public database of police stops
- Institute regular training on updated use-of-force policies
- Drug test officers after any incident that results in serious injury or death
- Review existing use of deadly force policy, which is based on Lane County policy
- Disallow police union officials or committee members from serving on Inter-Agency Deadly Force Investigation Team groups
- Prevent officers from reviewing footage before writing reports or making statements
Some would take legislative changes
Staff also will continue analyzing recommendations that would require changes at the state level.
“You’re going to need to learn more about them to determine whether or not you want to put those in your legislative priorities,” Medary said. “And it seems like the best time to do that would be at the end of this year when you’re kind of getting ready for the long session.”
Councilors unanimously voted to receive more information on the following recommendations in the fall before they set legislative priorities for 2023:
- Lobby for changes to state law to allow civilian investigators to interrogate officers within 48 hours of a deadly force incident
- Lobby for changes to state law to make the civilian complaints process more transparent
- Lobby for the removal of disciplinary matters from collective bargaining
- Civilian prosecutors should handle cases of potential criminal misconduct by police
- Lobby state to make body-worn and in-car camera footage public record
- Work with the state on stronger gun control laws
- Require justification in court for denial of public records requests for body-worn or in-car camera footage
Work session on civilian oversight process
The remaining dozen or so recommendations relate to the civilian oversight process, and staff recommended starting with an educational work session.
“I think the thing that came through a lot for me in the ad hoc meetings was that education and outreach around our system as it currently is and why it is how it is, could be really helpful going forward,” Interim Police Auditor Leia Pitcher said.
The council will start with a work session before the city moves forward on recommendations to:
- Give members of the Civilian Review Board and Police Commission a stipend
- Make sure no current or former EPD employees serve on the CRB
- Ensure at least a quorum of CRB members identify as part of a marginalized group
- Extend the expiration period for complaints
- Give City Council final say on policy proposals if there’s disagreement between the Police Commission and police chief
- Give the CRB authority to recommend officers with repeat offenses be removed from the force
- Give the CRB subpoena power
- Make CRB findings of fact binding
- Limit officer testimony if video footage is lost or destroyed
- Give the CRB investigative powers
- Give the CRB its own investigative team
- Give the CRB power to get additional evidence
- Give the CRB adjudication authority That work session will happen by July 17.
Contact city government watchdog Megan Banta at mbanta@registerguard. com.