State lawmakers eye chokehold ban, end to using tear gas


Police reform to be a priority at Wednesday's Special Session

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon state lawmakers heard from both law enforcement officials and demonstrators Tuesday in preparation for the Legislature’s Special Session beginning Wednesday.

Participants in a virtual heating held Tuesday brought up concerns regarding police reform — including the prospect of implementing a statewide ban on officers using chokeholds as a tactic to restrain suspects. The use of tear gas and rubber bullets is also being put into question.

“My hope is that decisions will be made based upon facts, evidence and data not on emotion, politics or perception,” said Woodburn Police Chief Jim Ferraris who participated in the hearing.

Another proposed policy thrown into the mix called for the State Attorney General to investigate fatal shootings by officers rather than have the case go to a grand jury. There’s also legislative support for a measure that would make it more difficult for officers to get their job back in law enforcement if they are fired. While Ferraris is concerned about policymakers being too reactionary, he said he understands the gravity of the current situation.

“We are facing the most difficult times that I can recall in my five decade career,” he said. “We’re not ignorant to current condition. Support is galvanized to make change and we know change is needed.”

The Special Session on Wednesday will be different than all the ones that have proceeded it. The Capitol building will be closed to the public because of the coronavirus restrictions, however, the session will be streamed online.

In addition to police reform, lawmakers also plan to tackle COVID-19 procedures, rent control, and filling the $2 billion budget hole.

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