The Oregon legislature has made it clear the public has the right to openly record police by passing HB 2704. The bill was signed into law by the governor!
June 16, 2015 - Bystander video of police encounters can be very powerful, as recent events have shown. We can all agree it should not be a crime to pull out a phone, hold it up, and record an officer who is engaged in misconduct. However, under the current Oregon law, it is a crime to record a conversation without "specifically informing" the parties to the conversation. The problem is obvious — it may not always be safe or reasonable to provide a warning; for example, when the officer is engaged in misconduct or if the officer is dealing with a dangerous situation. Now that it has been signed into law, the right to openly record police is protected in Oregon.
Over 1,700 ACLU supporters took action on this issue by contacting their legislators in Salem. Together, our voices were heard! Thank you to everyone who took a stand for the right to film police in Oregon.
Electronic communication – through email, cell phones and social media – has increasingly eclipsed postal mail and other hard-copy methods as our primary means of communication. Unfortunately, some government agencies interpret our outdated privacy laws to allow them to intercept and access a treasure trove of information about who you are, where you go, and what you do – the information being collected by search engines, social networking sites, and other websites every day.
Law enforcement agencies deploy license plate reader surveillance technology in Oregon without adequate or consistent privacy restrictions. Many agencies retain the location information and photograph of every vehicle that crosses the camera’s path, not simply those that are associated with a criminal nexus.
Data stored on a smartphone or other portable electronic device can paint a near-complete picture of even the most intimate and personal details of our lives. Before the age of smartphones, it was impossible for police to gather this much information about a person’s communications, historical movements, and private life.
Today, police officers routinely search the contents of a person’s cell phone during an arrest or after a cell phone seizure. With increasing frequency, officers perform such searches with the aid of electronic devices that strip a cell phone of its data on the scene. Such searches are a highly concerning invasion of privacy and are, in our opinion, unconstitutional.
UPDATE: February 20, 2015 - The Portland City Council voted 3-2 to rejoin the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The council will consider the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the FBI on February 25. We will call on Council to require changes to the MOU before it is approved.
Since 2005, when Portland ended its full participation in the JTTF, the Police Bureau has cooperated with the FBI only on a case-by-case basis. We strongly supported the City’s decision because of the FBI’s long history of targeting people in terrorism investigations based primarily on their political and/or religious beliefs.
ACLU Submits Comments to Federal Court in Anticipation of February Hearing
February 3, 2014 - On Friday the ACLU submitted comments to the federal court in support of a Settlement Agreement between Portland Police Bureau, the City of Portland, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the Portland Police’s unconstitutional practice of using excessive force against people with mental illness or experiencing mental health crisis. The comments come at the request of Judge Michael Simon, who on February 18th will hold a Fairness Hearing in his courtroom to determine whether the pending Settlement Agreement is fair and adequate to address the claims made by the DOJ after a lengthy investigation.
The Settlement Agreement is by no means perfect. We share concerns with other community advocates for police reform that the Agreement does not adequately address needed changes to the system of accountability for officer misconduct. And we fear that without stronger “teeth,” even the modest changes to the Portland Police that are mandated in the Agreement will never be implemented.
April 16, 2013 - Lake Oswego City Council is set to vote on a proposal to join the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) this evening, without discussion. The ACLU is urging the Council to postpone the vote until more details on the agreement between local law enforcement and the FBI can be reviewed.
UPDATE: April 17, 2013 - The Lake Oswego City Council voted unanimously to join the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
The efforts to improve communication and cooperation among law enforcement agencies, including between the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies, is important. As yesterday’s events in Boston have once again illustrated, such cooperation can be essential to protect public safety. However, the FBI and other federal agencies operate under very different laws and policies than state and local police agencies are required to follow here in Oregon.
Unfortunately, the FBI’s standard agreement for participation by local agencies in their Joint Terrorism Task Forces does not make any accommodation for those different standards and requirements. Indeed, that standard agreement makes it extremely likely that local police officers, once deputized as members of the FBI JTTF, will engage in activities that violate the important protections and safeguards of Oregon law and the Oregon Constitution.
UPDATE - The City of Portland, PPB, and USDOJ have reached agreement on the terms of their settlement. The ACLU has reviewed this agreement and presented testimony at the City Council hearing on November 1.
October 25, 2012 - Prompted by a condemning report by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ), which found that the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has engaged in systemic overuse of force particularly against persons with mental illness, PPB drafted revisions to its policies on Use of Force, Use of Deadly Force, and Tasers. PPB posted these drafts for comment and the ACLU of Oregon has responded with detailed recommendations for improvement.
September 27, 2012 - The ACLU of Oregon and our allies in police accountability advocacy submitted detailed recommendations to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), urging comprehensive reforms to the policies and practices of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). The recommendations were compiled in response to a September 12th report from DOJ, concluding that PPB employs unnecessary and excessive use of force on persons with mental illness. DOJ invited members of the community to provide input as to the terms of an agreement between DOJ and the City of Portland regarding reforms the PPB will undertake. The stated deadline for finalizing the agreement is October 12th.
UPDATE: July 25, 2012 - After first adopting an amendment from Commissioner Amanda Fritz to require the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) to report back to Council on an annual basis about their use of Automatic License Plate Recognition cameras (ALPR), the Portland City Council this morning approved PPB’s request to add a new SUV to their fleet with an ALPR.
UPDATE - June 6, 2012 - After a second reading and with no discussion, today the City Council approved the proposal relating to surveillance cameras. Commissioner Fritz voted no on the proposal, citing concerns that unless the rest of the Council would join her in adopting an amendment to the proposal that would require annual reporting on the use of surveillance cameras by the Portland Police, she could not support their increased use. We continue to advocate for the Portland Police Bureau to revise their video surveillance policy in accordance with our comments.
March 27, 2013 - ACLU of Oregon Executive Director David Fidanque testified before Portland City Council urging them to reject the recently released Portland Police Bureau's (PPB) Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) Report. The report contains few details , "... not enough detail to truly inform the public of the nature of PPB’s participation on the JTTF – certainly not enough to compel anyone to point to Portland as a model of transparency," Fidanque said.
The City Council voted to accept the report in a 3-2 vote despite concerns by many of the commissioners over the lack of information contained in the report.
Final Portland Reports on JTTF Greatly Improved, But…
February 29, 2012 – Significantly modified reports on the City of Portland’s relationship with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) were approved by the City Council after the ACLU’s testified they were greatly improved, but still lacked data that would permit the public to independently confirm that Oregon law and the Constitution are being honored by the City.
February 29, 2012 - UPDATE: This week the Eugene City Council voted to extend their downtown exclusion zone for another seven months. ACLU of Oregon has opposed this program since it was first established in 2008. (See our briefing paper below to learn more.) This is the second time this ordinance has been renewed and although we are disappointed with the extension we recognize that it might have been worse – there were enough votes on the city council to extend it for two years or even make it permanent.
A constitutional amendment to weaken our search and seizure provision (Article I, section 9) of the Oregon Constitution was introduced for the third session in a row.HJR 25 would have amended the constitution to authorize law enforcement to use roadblocks to stop and question individuals to detect drunk drivers without any individualized suspicion of wrongdoing.
Introduced by Rep. Barker (D-Aloha), HB 3085 expands the requirement by health care providers to notify law enforcement of the results of a blood test performed in the course of treatment if the blood contains a controlled substance and the person is believed to have been the operator of a motor vehicle involved in an accident.
This session, like last session, saw the introduction of a proposal to allow the collection of DNA from those arrested. SB 881, at the behest of Sen. Jackie Winters (R-Salem), would have required local law enforcement to collect a DNA sample of individuals arrested for any felony crimes committed against another person, all sex crimes and burglary in the first degree. SB 881 would have authorized the collection of biological evidence from individuals prior to any determination of guilt and without the requisite court order after a showing of probable cause.
In 2000, the ACLU of Oregon and our coalition partners began organizing to shed light on Portland’s involvement in the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force after Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch noticed an item related to the JTTF on the City Council’s consent agenda.
New Rules Protect Death With Dignity and Medical Marijuana Acts
December 11, 2007 - As a result of ACLU of Oregon lobbying efforts with Portland Mayor Tom Potter, Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer has issued an executive order that specifically prohibits any police assistance with investigations or prosecutions for persons who are acting under the authority of Oregon’s Death with Dignity or Medical Marijuana acts.
ACLU of Oregon Investigates Taser Use by Ashland Police -- and Issues a Call for Reform
Sept. 12, 2007 -- For more than a decade, the American Civil Liberties Union, at the national and affiliate level, has been concerned about the potential abuse and misuse of conducted energy devices (CEDs, also known as Tasers or stun-guns) by law enforcement.
David Rogers, ACLU of Oregon’s executive director, said:
“Governor Brown’s executive order is a meaningful action that reaffirms our state agencies and employees will uphold Oregon’s values of nondiscrimination and inclusiveness. These shared values are an integral part of making Oregon a vibrant and flourishing state that strives to treat all people with respect and dignity.