Statement by Attorney General Rosenblum on the Passage of HB 4301

August 10, 2020
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Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today issued the following statement on the passage of HB 4301:

“Congratulations to Representative Janelle Bynum, Senator James Manning, and to all the members of the People of Color Caucus of the Oregon Legislature on the passage tonight of HB 4301. My office was pleased to be asked to help in the development of this much needed overhaul of the statutes that govern the circumstances under which law enforcement can legally use force.

In the aftermath of the horrible death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, it is appropriate that all state legislatures consider the basic assumptions of their statutes which govern the permissible use of deadly force by law enforcement. Oregon’s statutes, which have not been significantly revised in over 40 years, are crucially important because they establish the parameters under which an officer’s use of force can become excessive under state law, triggering a range of consequences up to and including criminal prosecution of the officer.

HB 4301 aligns Oregon’s deadly force statutes with modern standards of policing, by requiring that law enforcement: (1) May use deadly force only against people who pose a genuine risk of causing death or serious physical injury; (2) Should consider de-escalation whenever possible prior to using any degree of force; and, (3) Whenever reasonably possible, give a verbal warning before force is used.

HB 4301 is a critical first step toward ensuring that, going forward, law enforcement in Oregon will use force only as a matter of last resort.”

The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and serves as the state’s law firm. The Oregon DOJ advocates for and protects all Oregonians, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and seniors.