New Oregon laws regulating police officer behavior, mugshots go into effect

The front side of the Oregon State Capitol is under construction near Court Street Northeast on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in Salem.
The front side of the Oregon State Capitol is under construction near Court Street Northeast on Wednesday, July 21, 2021 in Salem.

A law limiting Oregon law enforcement agencies' ability to release booking photos to the public went into effect this year.

Under the measure, booking photos won't be released to the public — except in a few specific circumstances — to protect the identity of individuals who haven't been convicted of a crime in Oregon.

A booking photo, also known as a mugshot, is a photograph of a person taken by a law enforcement agency for identification purposes when the person is taken into custody.

The new law will also require publish-for-pay publications to remove and destroy booking photos upon request within 30 days and bans the publication from charging more than $50 for their removal.

House Bill 3273 — sponsored by representatives Janelle Bynum, D-Clackamas, and Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie — came in part as a response to concerns from people who were negatively affected by doxxing — publicly disclosing an individual's personal information like an address or phone number, making them a target of harassment — during protests over the summer of 2020.

Some of the instances of doxxing, Bynum said, resulted from mugshots.

Bynum simultaneously sponsored House Bill 3047, a measure allowing individuals to take civil action in instances of doxxing. That law went into effect June 15.

"It’s time for our society to move past them," Bynum said of booking photos during testimony on the legislation. "The day someone gets arrested can quite frankly be one the worst days of their lives. Those mugshots are sometimes of people in a mental health crisis. Those photos that are published can ruin a person’s life who has not yet been found guilty of any crime. They can linger on and impact people’s lives for years to come. We can do better for them and for others."

For many law enforcement agencies, including Marion and Polk counties sheriff's offices, this will mean removing mugshots from their jail rosters. Polk County has already removed them from its site.

There are a few exceptions to the measure. A law enforcement agency may release a booking photo:

  • To the person depicted in the booking photo.

  • To another law enforcement agency, an officer employed by another law enforcement agency, for a law enforcement reason.

  • To the public, if the law enforcement agency determines that there is a law enforcement purpose for the release, including in assistance with apprehending a fugitive or a suspect in a criminal investigation, or the identification of additional criminal activity.

  • To a state mental hospital if the person depicted in the booking photo is admitted to the hospital.

  • To a person in a criminal proceeding following their arrest when the booking photo was taken.

  • To the victim/survivor of the offense for which the person in the booking photo was arrested.

  • Following the conviction of the person depicted in the booking photo, if the conviction results from the arrest during which the booking photo was obtained.

See below to read the law:

Other new public safety laws

Several other new public safety laws also went into effect Jan. 1:

House Bill 3145: The bill, requested by The Innocence Project and the Oregon Justice Resource Center, will require police departments to report instances of officer discipline that involve financial penalties to the state within 10 days. The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, the agency that certifies and licenses law enforcement, will publish those reports in an online database that will be publicly accessible.

Senate Bill 398: The bill, sponsored by Sen. James Manning Jr., D-Eugene, criminalizes the intent to intimidate individuals by displaying a noose. Violators face up to 364 days in prison and/or a $6,250 fine.

House Bill 2932: The bill, sponsored by representatives Ronald Noble, R-McMinnville, and Bynum, will require all Oregon law enforcement agencies to participate in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's national use-of-force database. The bill directs the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to analyze the information from the database and annually report its findings to the Legislature.

House Bill 3059: The bill, sponsored by Bynum at the request of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, removes the requirement for law enforcement to arrest people participating in an "unlawful assembly" solely for failing to disperse.

Virginia Barreda is the breaking news and public safety reporter for the Statesman Journal. She can be reached at 503-399-6657 or at vbarreda@statesmanjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at @vbarreda2.

This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: New Oregon laws regulating officer behavior, mugshots go into effect

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