By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer
Lew Frederick is very much aware that he is the Oregon’s only African American legislator.
Frederick is the state representative for inner north and northeast Portland. He was appointed state representative in 2009 when Chip Shields replaced State Sen. Margaret Carter, who left her Senate position to take an administrative role with Oregon’s Department of Human Services.
Frederick ran unopposed for election in 2010, and he is hitting the ground running with four bills he has introduced in the Legislature related to public safety.
The four bills are Frederick’s answer to the office-involved shooting deaths of Aaron Campbell, a mentally ill African-American man who was shot in the back in January 2010, and Keaton Otis, a 25-year old African-American man who was shot by Portland police officers in May 2010. Otis also suffered from mental illness.
Frederick is not just focused on Portland, either.
“This is not something that is uncommon across the United States,” he says in reference to the shootings. “It is part of a much larger narrative than just simply Portland, Oregon. We could have an incident take place like this in Umatilla with a Native American. We could have this take place in Ontario, with a Latino. This is not just a Portland issue.”
The first bill mandates that police-involved incidents resulting in death be investigated immediately, and by a team of law enforcement officials outside of the county the incident happened in.
The second would create a Task Force to consider adding the word “reasonable” to the definition of when it is appropriate for police officers to use lethal force.
The third bill supports changing the training police officers receive. The fourth bill would bolster community-policing programs. Frederick thinks there is a disconnect between the community and police officers that, if not solved, will continue an endless cycle of shootings and incidents similar to what happened to James Chasse, a schizophrenic man who was brutally killed by police officers in 2003, Jackie Collins, a homeless man shot and killed by a Portland police officer in 2009, and the Aaron Campbell and Keaton Otis incidents.
Frederick wants to see police officers become a more integrated part of the community they police. The bill also would increase scrutiny of how people of different races, ethnicities, and other profiling characteristics are treated by police officers when pulled over; how minority officers are recruited and retained and, according to an email sent to constituents “calls for tracking the amount of time an officer spends in the community outside of his duties as law enforcement.”
Amanda Waldroupe: Why are you introducing these four bills?
Lew Frederick: There is a basic issue that is behind all of them. There are a large number of people in my community that are afraid of the police. And the police are afraid of the community. Continue reading