Police Oversight and Accountability
What police accountability and oversight measures are in place in Eugene?
- Independent Oversight: Police Auditor
The Police Auditor’s Office was established in 2005 to provide an external mechanism for the independent receipt, classification, and routing of complaints against sworn and non-sworn EPD employees; contracts for outside investigations when necessary; and provide monitoring of EPD internal investigations of allegations of misconduct and supervisors’ investigations of service complaints.
- Civilian Review Board
The seven-member Civilian Review Board was established in 2006 and provides fair and impartial oversight and review of citizen complaints and internal investigations conducted by the Eugene Police Department. The Board strives to build trust and confidence within the community and to ensure that complaints are handled fairly, thoroughly, and in a timely manner. The Board encourages community involvement and transparency in order to promote the principles of community policing in Eugene.
- Police Commission
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.
- Eugene Internal Affairs Unit
The Internal Affairs Unit processes and tracks all complaints, inquiries, and commendations involving Eugene Police Department personnel.
- Body Worn Cameras
All EPD patrol officers have been equipped with body worn cameras since 2017. If recording is discontinued during an incident, officers are required to record the reason for discontinuation before switching off their camera. If this is not possible (for example due to a technical issue) officers must provide a written report to their supervisor after the event stating the reason for discontinuation.
- EPD, 911, and Forensics Accreditation
Eugene Police Department was first accredited in 2015 by Oregon Accreditation Alliance (OAA). Central Lane 911 is also accredited by OAA. EPD Forensic Evidence Unit (FEU) is accredited by American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. FEU was the state’s first local lab awarded accreditation in 2013.
EPD’s Response to Recent Events in May and June 2020
Message from Chief Chris Skinner: “The community is fully engaged in the events we’ve been going through since the last week of May 2020. In our profession, which we have chosen to serve our community, we are aware of a longstanding nationwide incidence of injustice to community members and communities of color. I want to emphasize the first pillar of 21st Century Policing, which is Trust and Legitimacy, and part of building that trust and legitimacy is recognizing injustices at the hands of police and policing in this community and this nation.
I’m encouraged by the direction we’re going, and the leadership role we have taken in our industry, not only in our state but on a national level. We still have work to do, and we remain committed to the highest levels of accountability, training, and collaboration with other resources in the community. Efforts geared toward accountability include continued dialogue with the police auditor, Civilian Review Board, and our police commission. We continue to improve our practices in disciplines such as our Crisis Negotiation Team, Crisis Intervention Training, de-escalation tactics, bias training and reporting. We continue to collaborate through other resources such as CAHOOTS for behavioral health calls.
We recognize occurrences of injustice and want to do better. We have a deep desire to engage in reform. Moving forward it is important the community knows the foundation upon which we have been building for the past 15 years and will continue to build, while working on areas where we can improve and be better.”
What policies are in place for EPD?
- EPD’s policies and procedures are open for viewing by the public.
- 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 of the city.
What other models does EPD use for guidance?
- 21st Century Policing
In 2014, President Barack 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. In 2018, the department took part in Police Legitimacy training as part of the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training curriculum.
- 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.
What does EPD do about bias or hate crimes?
In alignment with the City Council goal of creating a Safe Community, the City and its police department are 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 community members against intimidation and harassment based upon bias and prejudice; and works in tandem with the City’s Office of Equity & Community Engagement (ECE), 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. EPD and ECE work collaboratively in a responsive system. An annual Hate and Bias report is produced to document statistical information on both criminal and non-criminal hate and bias activity. Read more about the report and how to report hate or bias incidents.
What approach does EPD take to immigration matters?
EPD will not engage in immigration matters. Oregon police agencies have no legal authority to enforce federal immigration laws. You can read Chief Skinner’s letter to the community on this topic in English or Spanish.