EPD Announces Reforms In Wake of BLM Protests
The Eugene Police Department has unveiled its initial steps toward reform in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the nationwide protests that followed.
Eugene Police will no longer allow officers to use chokeholds. Chief Chris Skinner said that change is immediate.
“Policies that, while may be considered an industry standard, are policies that feel a little outdated and don’t match our communities needs and so we’re taking a look at those types of things,” said Skinner.
EPD is also looking at how it approaches impact weapons, public assemblies and demonstrations, and use of firearms and tasers.
Skinner acknowledged EPD is evaluating how they responded to Black Lives Matter protests earlier in June. He said using CS gas may not be the best way to respond to protesters out after curfew. But there’s a deeper discussion underway about the role of police in responding to people in crisis.
“Does it make sense to send police officers to those calls or do we try and match a different resource with that need?” Skinner asked. “And so that’s what we’re starting to talk about now and starting to come up with some ideas of what that might look like.”
Skinner said he believes the reforms underway will make EPD a better police department into the future.
“We’re hopeful that through this change that people will recognize that systemic change and local change can happen from within,.” said Skinner.
When asked about hiring more diverse officers, Skinner said he hopes people with different backgrounds, and life experience will see how the EPD is changing and feel more encouraged to be part of it.
“And so I’m hopeful that we will see a more diverse pool of applicants if nothing else because they want to be a part of the direction we’re going and want to help effect change here locally.” Skinner said.
He added that he’d like police officers to mirror the community.
Copyright 2020 KLCC.
Full Press Release from EPD (sent July 1, 2020):
Eugene Police Initiates First Set of Policing Reforms in Wake of
George Floyd Death in Minneapolis
Eugene Police Department is deeply committed to taking a look at its policies and practices for racial equity and justice. In the wake of the George Floyd death in Minneapolis, local marches and rallies, and calls for police reform, we have considered what we can do at EPD to make things better.
We are taking the first steps in reform as detailed below, to build on our foundation of the past 15 years of systemic reform, with strong forward momentum to identify gaps and blind spots and make changes to remove any possible racial injustice or bias toward people of color and address use of force issues.
Not only are we are poised to quickly adopt the recent Oregon legislative changes, we are taking initiative on the following:
- We have removed the carotid restraint from our policies. The use of the carotid as a less lethal force option is no longer an option and no longer condoned as a less lethal tool, and will not be trained any longer.
- Our Policy and Accreditation Office is aggressively identifying policies for the Police Commission, a 12-member citizen advisory body, to conduct comprehensive reviews on. These policies include Policy 808 – Handcuffing, Control Holds, & Impact Weapons, Policy 316 – Public Assemblies and Demonstrations, Policy 317 – Civil Disturbance, and Policy 318 – Field Force and Policy 809 – PepperBall Projectiles. These policy reviews will take time to complete, and will be thorough and thoughtful with significant input from the Police Commission.
- EPD has also identified an improvement we can make in our use of force reporting. We recognize pointing a firearm or a Taser at someone with the intent to gain compliance is an elevated use of force and it has an impact on the person involved. We are currently working to write new policy language to require those two actions be reported and tracked as uses of force. That language will be implemented as soon as the systems are in place for the reporting. Those changes will then be provided to the Police Commission to review as their schedule and priorities allow. We feel these changes are necessary, and should be implemented as soon as possible.
- We are also in the early stages on an “Early Intervention System” that works within our current complaint and use of force reporting system to help us intervene at the early stages of problematic behavior.
- We will continue to review our training and education as we change policies and identify improvements through review of recent incident response and best practices.
We will continue to look at what we need to do with the culture of the police department and how we can move down a path of listening to our community. We are looking forward to that conversation when that conversation is ready to be had. We will be fully engaged to adjust so we can serve.
Background of Previous Reforms
The City of Eugene Police Department has been undergoing reform for many years and has systems in place maybe unlike any other police department its size. There are:
21ST Century Policing - In 2014, President Barak Obama appointed a task force to develop recommendations on how policing practices can promote effective crime reduction while building public trust. This report, The Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, serves as a reference for numerous Eugene efforts, including a systematic review of the municipal justice system and the recruitment efforts made for the hiring of Chief Chris Skinner.
Policies - EPD’s policies and procedures are open for viewing by the public online at EugenePolice.com https://www.eugene-or.gov/
EPD, 911, and Forensics Accreditation - Eugene Police Department was first accredited in 2015, by Oregon Accreditation Alliance. Central Lane 911 is also accredited by OAA. EPD Forensic Evidence Unit is accredited by American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. FEU was the state’s first local lab awarded accreditation in 2013.
Police Commission Provides Policy Review/Recommendation - The commission was created in 1998 and charged by city ordinance to facilitate communication between the community and police, increase public understanding of police policies and practices, and provide input on police policies and procedures that reflect community values and resource priorities. https://www.eugene-or.gov/664/
Independent Oversight: Police Auditor - The Police Auditor’s Office was established in 2005 and reports directly to mayor and city council to provide an external mechanism for the independent receipt, classification, and routing of complaints against sworn and non-sworn EPD employees; contract for outside investigations when necessary; and provide monitoring of EPD internal investigations of allegations of misconduct and supervisors’ investigations of service complaints. https://www.eugene-or.gov/
Civilian Review Board - Ultimately, the goal of the Civilian Review Board is to make the system of police accountability more transparent and increase public confidence in the manner that police conduct their work. https://www.eugene-or.gov/88/
Eugene Police Internal Affairs Unit - The Internal Affairs Unit processes and tracks all complaints, inquiries and commendations involving Eugene Police Department personnel. https://www.eugene-or.gov/577/
All Use of Force Is Reported and Reviewed - Any use of force is documented and a report must be written and turned into the employee’s supervisor within 24 hours of the incident, even if the incident occurred outside the city.
Procedural Justice - Police legitimacy and procedural justice encompasses four core principles: voice, trustworthiness, neutrality, and respect. It is applied during interaction with the public, and the manner, principles and fairness in how the officer addresses the situation.
Bias Crime Reporting - In alignment with the City Council goal of creating a Safe Community, the City and it’s police department is committed to working with community partners to reach the vision of promoting a community where every person, regardless of their identity, is safe, valued, and welcome. EPD takes an active role to protect all citizens against intimidation and harassment based upon bias and prejudice; and works in tandem with the City’s Office of Human Rights and Neighborhood Involvement, which collects statistical information on both criminal and non-criminal hate and bias activity and provides victim support and community response to hate and bias activity in Eugene. Each works collaboratively together in a responsive system.
EPD Will Not Engage In Immigration Matters - Oregon police agencies have no legal authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
Body Worn Cameras – In 2013, Eugene Police began early to experiment with body worn video and in 2015, was one of 73 agencies that received a Department of Justice grant for body worn cameras. As of 2017, all patrol officers began wearing body-worn cameras.
Hiring - In addition to a character-based hiring strategy, we have a robust background investigation that takes several weeks and a strong commitment by the organization. Part of hiring is also a thorough psychological screening for each applicant. This includes an assessment of their stability and suitability for work as an officer. We utilize a psychologist, board certified in police and public psychology, who uses gold-standard evidence based practices which, includes a discussion of cultural competency.
De-escalation: The EPD Crisis Negotiations Team - CNT works closely with Patrol and SWAT on demanding and dangerous calls, such as barricaded subjects, armed suicidal subjects and hostage situations, and high risk search warrants. CNT can/will respond independently of SWAT to assist on incidents that are deemed to be beyond the scope of patrol officers because of limitations in their equipment or expertise.
De-escalation Training – Officers all receive de-escalation training designed to reduce the need to use force, recognize the sanctity of life, protect officers from harm, reduce injuries to subjects and build community trust. Eugene Police De-escalation Policy: https://www.eugene-or.gov/
Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) – Officers receive 40-hours of training to increase the ability to resolve police encounters with people who have mental illnesses safely and when appropriate, link them to mental health support and services that reduce the chances for future interactions with the criminal justice system. Officers work in conjunction with trained dispatchers, CAHOOTS and mental health providers.
CAHOOTS - CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) is a mobile crisis intervention program staffed by White Bird Clinic personnel using City of Eugene vehicles. This relationship has been in place for nearly 30 years and is well embedded in the community. CAHOOTS provides support for EPD personnel by taking on many of the social service style calls for service to include crisis counseling. They often provide initial contact and transport for intoxicated persons, mentally ill, or disoriented persons as well as transport for necessary non-emergency medical care. CAHOOTS is dispatched on EPD’s service channel and calls are triaged through the Central Lane Communication Center. Each van is staffed with a medic (nurse or EMT) and an experienced crisis worker.
STOPS/Profiling - In 2006 EPD became the first police agency in Oregon to train its entire police force in the topic of biased based policing using the nationally-recognized curriculum known as Perspectives in Profiling. The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission reviewed EPD’s data in 2019 and found EPD Equity During Traffic and Pedestrian Stops. Oregon Criminal Justice Commission has found no evidence Eugene Police Department conducts traffic or pedestrian stops, enforcement actions, searches, or arrests in disparate proportions for black or Hispanic populations. https://www.oregon.gov/cjc/
Perspectives in Racial Profiling - In 2012, EPD began as a regular course to provide all its officers with Perspectives in Profiling and started working on adding a module for gathering data on stops for the new records management system. This system enables EPD to collect demographic data related to police contacts. Perspectives on Profiling recognizes we need to think differently about our role in society; to see ourselves less as warriors who are occupying our communities to make them safe and more as guardians who are present to help serve. That change in posture, along with developments in new training that emphasizes empathy in every contact and is reflected in our policies and practices, will help to improve relations in our community.
Implicit Bias Training - In 2015, the Eugene Police Department’s on-going commitment to ensuring professional contacts with the public, led to a new partnership with the University of Oregon. In November of 2015, Professor Erik Grivan from the School of Law provided implicit bias training to all sworn officers and several support staff to include community service officers, crime prevention specialists and volunteers.