Inspiring Speaker

St. Helens High School senior Savannah Manning holds her fist up while speaking to the marchers gathered in front the Columbia County Court House last June during the Black Lives Matter march and rally.

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Oregon Legislators are moving ahead with bills to increase police accountability.

The effort follows public movements in Oregon and across the nation calling for the increased accountability sparked by police killings and officer misconduct.

St. Helens Rally

A police officer station on top of city hall (top left) watches the Black Lives Matters rally in front of the Columbia County Court House in St. Helens last June. The public demonstration was one of many held across the nation following the death of George Floyd during a police arrest in Minneapolis.

The movement included several rallies and demonstrations in St. Helens over the past year, include a large march and rally at the Columbia County Courthouse in June. 

Oregon Governor Kate Brown testified Tuesday, April 6, before Oregon House Committee on Judiciary urging her support for a set of bills, including HB 2162, which is a recommendation of the Governor's Public Safety Training and Standards Task Force.

"This past year, more than ever, we’ve seen Oregonians standing up to make their voices heard in calling for racial justice and police accountability—even in the middle of a pandemic — because the need for change is so pressing. And we have responded with action," Brown said.

Last summer, Brown created the Public Safety Training and Standards Task Force to complete a full review of law enforcement training, certification, and decertification practices in Oregon. Their recommendations are reflected in House Bill 2162.

The Oregon Racial Justice Council is focused on centering racial equity in police accountability, according to Brown.

Over the summer during a special session, the legislature passed legislation limiting tear gas and other uses of force, as well as holding law enforcement accountable.

"Our commitment to furthering this critical work is evidenced by the set of police accountability bills considered today," Brown testified Tuesday. "The path to racial justice in our state is a long one, but these bills are very important steps in building a more just and equitable Oregon."

Following the Brown's testimony, the House Committee on Judiciary move 10 bills to the full House of Representatives for consideration. The bills include deeper background checks of police officers and regulating weapons police use.

Follow this developing story here online and in the Wednesday print editions of The Chronicle.


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