John Bishop, OSSA Executive Director & Retired Curry County Sheriff
Spring, 2017 – As we head into the 2017 legislative season here in Salem, your sheriffs have several important issues they are facing this year. Our legislative committee really hasn’t had any time off since last year, as we are either trying to get bills to a point where we are comfortable in taking them to the legislature, or we are standing in opposition against the bills which we think will hurt our opportunities to help our citizens or our deputies in keeping our communities safe.
As you might have guessed, one of the most compelling issues right now for your sheriff is immigration. Many of you have asked how President Trump’s Executive Order will change the way your sheriff will do business. The short answer to this very complex issue is that as of now, there are no changes for your sheriff and the jails they oversee.
The law in Oregon prohibits any sheriff or other law enforcement agency from spending any public dollars or utilizing personnel to arrest any person solely for violating federal immigration laws. This law has been in effect since 1987, and it prevents any Oregon public safety officer from acting as an immigration officer.
However, if a person is illegally in the country and they commit a criminal act in Oregon, the law allows for law enforcement to exchange information with immigration, and your jails do this routinely. County jails cannot honor a civil detainer or request from ICE to hold a person beyond their local release date for the criminal violation they committed. They can be held if the detainer/warrant has been signed by a federal magistrate. If there is no magistrate’s signature then holding this person beyond the local release date would have your Sheriff violating the person’s fourth amendment right, as was decided in 2014 in a federal court case. Oregon sheriffs will continue to keep our lines of communication open with our federal partners as these issues continue to evolve and unfold. Remember, your sheriffs are bound to follow state laws, which currently only allow the exchange of information with ICE when a foreign-born person is arrested.
Several other legislative issues this year will include racial profiling, first-time felonies, officer-involved domestic violence, sex offenders, DUII with prescription and marijuana, community corrections funding, and much, much more. At the time of this letter, approximately 2,800 bills have been introduced in the legislative session, and we will examine each of them to determine what course of action is needed or what effect the bill would have on public safety.
Regarding other information from OSSA, we are nearing completion of our office remodel. We will have our new offices and a brand new museum to display numerous items from over the years (more than 100 years) including two jail doors. One was used in the movie “The Goonies!” We will have a new Sheriffs’ Memorial for all of the sheriffs and deputies who have given their lives in the service of their communities.
We are involved in numerous upcoming training conferences, along with college scholarships, sponsorships for various programs, Safe Driving Programs for teens, and Career Camp for kids, and we are getting ready to have our New Sheriffs Institute to help our newly elected sheriffs. We are also continuing our membership drive, magazine publication, and numerous other endeavors we have taken on for 2017. OSSA is here to serve our sheriffs and you, our members.
God bless our sheriffs and their deputies, and God bless the United States of America.