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Profiling Bill Creates 'Accountability' For Oregon Police

Oregon's legislative session ended last week, but before it did lawmakers passed a bill that requires the state to set up a tracking system for profiling complaints against law enforcement.

Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill Monday, as part of a series of bills she described as "fair shot" legislation passed this session. It will go into effect Jan. 1.

The bill defines “profiling” as when a law enforcement agency or officer stops an person for questioning because of factors like age, race, ethnicity or gender identity.

The ban also mandates a statewide complaint system for individuals to use if they feel they've been profiled — as well as to ensure all agencies have an in-house complaint policy. The state plans to give $250,000 to Portland State University's Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute, where the complaints will be collected and analyzed.

Rep. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, a victim of profiling himself and one of the only two African Americans in the state Senate, co-sponsored the bill. He shared his own history of being stopped by police almost every year in Oregon since he moved in 1974.

"I have had a number of situations that have taken place in Oregon that have not been pleasant," Frederick said. "I have been stopped in front of my house three times by a police officer asking if I was lost."

The Portland Police Bureau and other agencies — like the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office — already have in-house directives that prohibit profiling.

"I take very seriously and have zero tolerance," said Multnomah County Sheriff Dan Staton. "We have a section in our policies with regards to appropriate action required, and also racial discrimination. It is very extensive in the policies which govern racial profiling."

Despite controls that are already in place, some people say profiling by police still occurs.

Portland resident, Ryannah Quigley, a transwoman of color and community advocate with the Center for Intercultural Organizing, said Portland police officers accused her of being a prostitute last fall while she waited for public transportation on the city's east side.

After showing the officer her valid bus pass, “he told me I had to leave the premises of the bus stop or he would arrest me” for trespassing.

Frederick said he believes that the bill creates “some kind accountability” to these agencies.

“It is time for us to track those kind of things," he said. "This is what the bill attempts to do.”

<p>Portland resident, Ryannah Quiqley, says she was profiled by police because of she is transgender and a person of color.&nbsp;</p>

Photo contributed by Ryannah Quigley

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Portland resident, Ryannah Quiqley, says she was profiled by police because of she is transgender and a person of color. 

Copyright 2015 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Alyssa Jeong Perry