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The City of Portland, Oregon

Ted Wheeler

Mayor, City of Portland

main phone: 503-823-4120

1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 340, Portland, OR 97204

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Accountability is Job One: Elimination of 48-Hour Rule Must Stand


July 21, 2017
Contact: Michael Cox, 503-823-6593

Accountability is Job One: Elimination of 48-Hour Rule Must Stand
Mayor Ted Wheeler wants Court to OK compelled interviews in police use of deadly force investigations

PORTLAND, OR – Today Mayor Ted Wheeler will file an ordinance to be brought in front of City Council to preserve the elimination of the “48-Hour Rule.” The ordinance details investigative procedures to be used in an employment investigation of an officer involved in the use of deadly force. Those procedures include a compelled interview of the involved officer within 48 hours of the incident, as well as assurances that the employment investigation can be effectively walled off from the criminal investigation. Finally, the ordinance asks for Court review to ensure investigations are properly conducted under the Oregon Constitution.

“I oppose the 48-Hour Rule. Officers who wrongly use deadly force should no longer wear a badge,” said Wheeler. “The previous Council paid a steep price to eliminate the rule and I want it gone forever.”

The latest chapter in the fight to ensure thorough and timely employment investigations of officers who used deadly force involves a March memo from Multnomah County District Attorney, laying out his legal reasoning that an Oregon Supreme Court Decision, State v. Soriano (1982), prevents compelled interviews. The DA’s interpretation was later backed by an Oregon Department of Justice memo, which acknowledged grey areas in the law remain.

“The DA’s interpretation of the law is the best we have at this time, but I am not convinced a case from 1982, which did not deal with the question of concurrent employment and criminal investigations, should be the final word on issues critical to police accountability and public trust today,” said Wheeler.

Employment investigations are a powerful tool to ensure bad actors are held to account. Criminal prosecutions of officers involved in the use of deadly force are rare, and convictions even more so. However, the City has a responsibility to be mindful of taking any action or implementing any policy which might interfere with the Multnomah County DA’s ability to hold a police officer responsible for criminal behavior.

The ordinance (with Exhibit A. Exhibit B, and Exhibit C) will come before City Council on August 3. If approved, it will take effect upon entry of a final judgment and conclusion of subsequent appeals, if any, by Oregon courts. Mayor Wheeler continues to actively pursue additional options to ensure interviews are conducted within 48 hours.