FAMILIES DEMAND: HOLD PROSECUTORS AND POLICE ACCOUNTABLE
The policing system in the U.S. has a long history of officers enacting violence and racism against community members with impunity. Too many of our loved ones have been harmed, traumatized, or killed by police.
We want a district attorney who will prosecute police misconduct and violence. District attorneys can and should remove unethical officers from the police force and the criminal legal system.
Prosecutors and district attorneys often say that they are working to keep the public safe, but safe from whom?
- According to Oregon Health Authority statistics, in Washington County, 21.7% of all homicides from 2017 through 2020 were committed by a person with “special legal authority to use deadly force,” e.g. police, sheriff deputies, etc.
- Pacific Northwest Family Circle estimates that over 400 people have been killed by police in Oregon since 1992 and not one officer has ever been held accountable, either criminally or administratively (link to databases used).
- In rare cases, when police officers’ excessive use of force has led to them being fired, these decisions were overturned in arbitration later.
How can the public be safe when anyone can be killed by police and almost all of these homicides are found to be legal and justified within police policy?
We want a district attorney who will require accountability and transparency from the prosecutors they employ.
Prosecutors are also law enforcement. They take over where the police leave off in a system that either sends people to prison and jail, parole, and probation or kills them before they get a chance for due process or mental health care. Prosecutors amplify police practices by criminalizing people in the courtroom, unless district attorneys demand otherwise. Like police, prosecutors have a history of unethical behavior in pursuit of cases.
We want a district attorney who doesn’t bring up irrelevant facts about victims of police violence.
The district attorney is supposed to represent the community in a fair and impartial way. We want a district attorney that doesn’t select evidence to benefit the police. They should not be acting as defense attorney for police officers.
To build trust in the district attorney’s office and law enforcement, we want a district attorney who will:
- Prioritize true public safety over special treatment of police, prosecutors and other privileged individuals.
- Prioritize root cause solutions and restorative justice over punishment by investing in communities.
- Create and support mental health and addiction treatment programs instead of incarceration and other poverty-inducing sentencing methods.
- Support mandatory de-escalation policies.
- Never use plea deals or mandatory minimums to coerce people into pleading guilty or accepting unjust sentences.
- Protect victims of crime, and their families, friends, and neighbors.
- Including victims injured, killed, and/or harassed by police.
- Families need maximum disclosure with minimum delay, communicated in a culturally appropriate and trauma-informed manner.
- Measure success by outcomes that heal the community instead of high conviction rates.
- Establish a zero-tolerance policy for misconduct by prosecutors that includes all ethics violations.
- Ensure that all law enforcement agencies in the county promptly and accurately report police use of force and discipline data as required by Senate Bill 111 (signed into law in 2007) and House Bills 2932 and House Bill 3145 (signed into law in 2021).