Reimagining Public Safety: How We Can Make Progress on Police Reform

August 1, 2020
August 1, 2020 teameddymorales

The murder of George Floyd has sparked national protests against police brutality. Gresham community members are also standing up to demand public safety and accountability.

Are you interested in a new vision of public safety? Join me to advocate for fair, transparent, and accountable community policing. Together, we can build a city where our residents feel safe and secure.

Over the past six weeks, a lot has happened in Gresham. Along with  changes in city leadership, we are also talking about our policing priorities. The City of Gresham has signed on to the Obama Foundation’s Mayor’s Pledge to review police use of force policies. This pledge commits us to:

  1. REVIEW our police use-of-force policies.
  2. ENGAGE you, our community members, by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in our review.
  3. REPORT the review findings to the community and seek feedback.
  4. REFORM our community’s police use-of force policies.

These types of reviews are happening around Oregon. In a June 2020 special legislative session, Oregon lawmakers passed laws to help Oregonians hold police accountable to public safety standards. (See Oregon Legislature Passes Package of Police Reform Bills as Special Session Ends, Willamette Week, June 26, 2020 for reference). These provide us with tools to start to address change right here at home.

One particular challenge we face when reviewing use-of-force policies is that our contract with the police union here in Gresham does not provide transparency around complaints.

KOIN News covered the topic in a July 2, 2020 report, “Why are police misconduct complaints largely shielded from public view?”

As KOIN noted, “there is inconsistency in how some agencies in the Portland metro area currently track and share complaints against officers and deputies.”

How are police misconduct complaints handled in the City of Gresham?

Currently, if anyone in Gresham files a police misconduct complaint, it is handled internally in the police department. There is no way for the public to see whether our officers have one or more complaints against them.

In today’s political and social environment, this lack of transparency does not help build relationships between community and police.

The contract in place with the Gresham Police Officers’ Association will be up for negotiation in 2022. The way that complaints are investigated and shared with the community is just one thing that we can look at as a part of that process. The review process will be important to community safety as well as our budget.

Gresham City Council took an important step when we voted to raise the Black Lives Matter flag at City Hall. For now, the flag will fly every day through the end of August.

Celebrate by joining me to advocate for public safety for all Gresham residents. It’s only when community members engage in a public discussion about what they want for public safety and from the police that we will be in a position to review the police contract effectively.

In solidarity,

Eddy Morales