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September 26th, 2012 ANDREA DAMEWOOD | Elections
 

One Question: Should the City End the 48-Hour Waiting Period for Police Involved in Shootings?

news3_3847ILLUSTRATION: Amy Martin

The city’s labor contract with police allows officers involved in a shooting or in-custody death to decline to talk to bureau investigators for 48 hours while they confer with union lawyers. Outside law-enforcement experts have criticized this rule for reducing police accountability and preventing timely investigations. The U.S. Department of Justice’s damning report released Sept. 13 says “it is difficult to conceive of [Portland Police Bureau] officers permitting [a] civilian 48 hours before asking him or her questions.” We asked the candidates for mayor: Will you work to end the 48-hour rule?

Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-East Portland):

Won’t say. “I would ask the community where we link the 48-hour rule in collective bargaining in connection with other high-priority contract issues. We allow [citizens] to talk to a lawyer before they talk to a police officer. The question here is whether there should be an application of the constitution. You sacrifice your own ability to remain silent by virtue of being a police officer. There’s no requirement that a citizen divulge information to an officer without an attorney present. The citizen who is not a police officer has an infinity waiting period. The union contract requires officers get questioned within 48 hours, whether or not they are arrested.”

Charlie Hales: 

Yes. “We need to modify or end the 48-hour rule, and that’s an issue that we do need to take up in bargaining. It’s not something that the mayor can do by fiat. It’s an issue I feel strongly about and the public feels strongly about. The public and the Police Bureau are going to be better served if we get timely information—and timely is faster than 48 hours. We need to open it up, and obviously take the DOJ report seriously. I want the Portland Police Bureau to have a model relationship with the community and really be an example of how community policing works. For that to happen, some of these practices will have to change.”

 
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