Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Signs Measure Restricting Police Use of Force

Black Lives Matter protesters march through Portland, Ore. after rallying at the Mark O. H
AP Photo/Noah Berger

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed a measure placing further restrictions on police use of force — an action that comes as authorities continue to face off with violent protesters in cities such as Portland.

“When we all work together, we can achieve real change in police reform. Today I signed HB 4301 into law, a ban on police use of chokeholds in most situations,” Brown announced on Tuesday. “I’d like to thank the Legislature’s People of Color Caucus for leading the way on this important bill”:

A brief summary of the bill states that a “peace officer or corrections officer may not use force that impedes normal breathing or circulation of blood of another person by applying pressure on throat or neck except in specified circumstances.”

It adds:

Modifies justification defenses available to peace officer who uses physical force or deadly physical force upon another person. Requires peace officer to give verbal warning, and reasonable opportunity to comply, before using physical force or deadly physical force if reasonable opportunity to do so exists. Requires peace officer to consider alternatives to physical force or deadly physical force if reasonable opportunity to do so exists. Declares emergency, effective on passage.

According to the Oregonian, provisions on the broad use of force will take effect next year:

The general use-of-force portion of the new law that takes effect in January will only allow law enforcement officers to use deadly force when it is objectively reasonable for them to believe a person poses an imminent threat of physical injury, or that physical force is necessary to make an arrest or prevent an escape of someone they have probable cause to believe committed a crime. The law will require officers whenever possible to verbally warn people before using physical force and employ de-escalation techniques.

Brown’s stamp of approval follows her move to blame President Trump for the escalation of violence in the city of Portland.

“For the last several years, and escalating in recent months, President Trump has encouraged division and stoked violence,” Brown said following the murder of a man who was wearing a “Patriot Prayer” hat in the city over the weekend.

“It happened in Charlottesville. It happened in Kenosha. And now, unfortunately, it is happening in Portland, Oregon,” she continued, decrying what she called Trump’s “outright encouragement of violence in our streets.”

“It should be clear to everyone by now that no one is truly safe with Donald Trump as president,” she added.

Brown has continued to divert attention from the violent protesters, blaming “right-wing vigilantes” and “armed white supremacists” for unrest in the streets. She has since released a “unified law enforcement plan” to bring an end to the violence in Portland, enlisting assistance from the state police as well as other police departments. However, both Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett and Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts have rejected the governor’s request to assist Portland Police.

“PPB is a terrific partner and I am very sympathetic to what they are enduring,” Garrett said. “However, the lack of political support for public safety, the uncertain legal landscape, the current volatility combined with intense scrutiny on use of force presents an unacceptable risk if deputies were deployed directly.”

Roberts claimed that Brown never spoke to her about the request prior to releasing the proposal.

“Had Governor Brown asked me, I would have told her that no amount of human resources will stop the ‘cycle of violence’ (her term) that is making Portland unsafe,” he said in a statement. “For that to occur, the criminal justice system will need do its part and hold offenders accountable.”


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