Rep. Witt E-News May 13, 2015

Volume 9, Number 13

Brad Witt

E-Newsletter May 13, 2015

Hello Friends,

Oregon does not exist in a vacuum, and what happens on the national level often stimulates legislation here at home.  One such case has to do with interactions between the police and the citizen on the street, especially at times when an arrest is in progress, or there is a suspicion that a crime has been committed.  There is a certain vulnerability on both sides of the equation, hence three bills were introduced, and passed, to try and hold all parties more accountable and to bolster trust in the criminal justice system.

HB 2704A would update Oregon law by allowing citizens to openly record police officers engaged in official duties while they’re in public.  Current law prohibits the audio recording of anyone without first specifically informing the subject of the recording, with some exceptions.  HB 2704 would add filming of law enforcement interactions to the list of existing exemptions.  Private citizens may not, however, interfere with the official duties of a police officer. 

Feedback from both the public and the law enforcement community has been positive regarding this bill.  Increased transparency should clarify what actions were taken, when and by whom, and this can only serve to keep situations from getting out of control. 

Another bill that fits hand in glove with the rights of the public to video police officers is HB 2571A, which establishes statewide rules for the use of police body cameras and for the retention of the footage for the police departments who use them.  The use of body cameras has been a topic of national debate, but they are becoming increasingly popular among many of Oregon’s law enforcement agencies. 

This bill does not require the use of body cameras but it does require these agencies to establish policies and procedures for the recording of interactions with members of the public while on duty.  Thus, when they are used, these policies will provide the kind of transparency that the public deserves.  It also outlines public records laws, clarifies evidence and discovery rules, and provides for certain exemptions to the law. 

The third bill, HB 3399A, deals with the court system closest to home, that is our justice and municipal courts.  Currently, there are 24 Justices of the Peace in Oregon, they are created by the county court or county commission, and they have jurisdiction over a wide variety of offenses created by city charter or ordinance.  Testimony during the hearings on this bill demonstrated a need for minimum standards of education and consistency in what qualifications should be required of judges across all of these courts.

As a consequence, HB 3399A requires a Justice of the Peace or a municipal court judge to either hold a juris doctor degree or to complete a course on courts offered by the National Judicial College, and to be a member of the Oregon State Bar.  It also requires these courts to make and keep audio recordings or transcripts of misdemeanor and felony criminal proceedings for 12 months.  Again, increased transparency leads to greater trust in the judicial system.

All three of these bills passed the House on May 5th, and all passed by a large majority.  They are now over in the Senate for further review.

Finally, I’d like to invite you to meet me at the Klondike Restaurant in St. Helens for another informal get together to talk about whatever is on your radar.  We will meet on Friday, May 15th, at 4pm in the Patio area, weather permitting.  I look forward to listening and learning – I hope to see you there!

Yours truly,

Representative Brad Witt

House District 31

Gilke International Middle School

I had a wonderful presentation this week from Gilke International Middle School students focusing on climate change. These students came to share their learning about atmospheric carbon dioxide releases and current research. Thank you Gilke Students for making the trip to your Capitol and meeting with me!

State Seal

YOUR Rep. for a Working Oregon!

Please join me to share your ideas, concerns and thoughts about the 2015 legislative session.

Friday May 15, 2015

Klondike Restaurant

71 Cowlitz St Saint Helens


Proudly serving Columbia and portions of Mult. and Wash. Co.

Sauvie Island Academy Auction 2015

This Saturday is the Annual Sauvie Island Academy Auction.

More info is on their website at:

email: I phone: 503-986-1431
address: 900 Court St NE, H-374, Salem, OR, 97301