Three weeks after a man’s death in Minnesota sparked protests of police brutality, the Oregon Police Department has updated its use of force policies.
And a resolution the Village Board passed Monday, June 15, is calling for more changes and promising funding for added training — for OPD and other village departments.
Even though it was over a virtual meeting, trustees took turns reading from the resolution, titled, “Honoring the Life of George Floyd with Our Actions.”
They rarely do such a thing, but it appeared to be showing solidarity during a period where unrest continues to pervade the world. The resolution promises changes in the village on behalf of Floyd, who died May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
The measure says the village will fund implicit bias training provided by organizations such as Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership and Development, Groundwork, Journey Mental Health center and the YWCA in its 2021 budget. All village employees, including those from the Oregon Police Department, will have to complete the training by the end of September 2021, the document states.
The resolution also asks the police officers to revise its current use of force policy, and recommends village staff continue their partnership with Oregon’s Diversity and Inclusion Council to encourage a broader representation on village boards and committees, and review examples from other communities of how marginalized groups work with municipal departments.
Police chief Jennifer Pagenkopf told the board she has already made some changes to the use of force policy.
According to the updated policy, officers are only to use de-escalation techniques and other lower level use of force alternative to higher levels “when in a position to safely do so, consistent with his or her training whenever possible.”
The updated policy states that any officer present and observing another officer using force that is “clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances, shall, when in a position to safely do so, intercede.”
“Officers shall promptly report these observations to a supervisor,” the policy reads.
But there is more work to be done, she said, explaining some changes will come from state and federal Department of Justice recommendations and additional funding. Pagenkopf also said the department’s status as an accredited agency helps. Former chief Brian Uhl made accreditation a top priority in his more than four years here before leaving in February.
Board members concurred with Pagenkopf’s statement that more changes should be made to the use of force policy, and others, to truly make an impact.
“We have an opportunity to set an example.” trustee Cory Horton told the board. “We need to actively facilitate that.”