May 31, 2018
In 2015, a labor organization representing police officers called the Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs (ORCOPS) was formed after a series of primarily Portland/Tri County area police unions broke away from the Oregon Council of Police Associations (another police and corrections union organization). On several occasions since ORCOPS launched their organization, legislators, staff, civilians, and many others have confused this organization with Oregon Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police. The confusion is easy to understand because ORCOPS intentionally uses the words “Sheriffs” in their organizational name (as opposed to the correct term – Deputy Sheriff). This may have been done to imply that elected Sheriffs are represented by this organization, and we want to be absolutely clear that ORCOPS DOES NOT REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF OREGON SHERIFFS OR CHIEFS OF POLICE.
The Oregon State Sheriffs Association, formed in 1916, nearly 100 years before ORCOPS was created, is deeply concerned by the misleading tactics of ORCOPS and the confusion it creates. ORCOPS is a labor organization representing line-level police officers, and their positions are often in direct conflict with your elected Sheriffs and with Oregon Police Chiefs. This confusion is not a mistake or oversight by ORCOPS, the Oregon State Sheriffs Association has approached ORCOPS leadership about adjusting their name to clarify who the organization really represents (Deputy Sheriffs in this case) and has been flatly rejected. Here are excerpts from that written conversation:
“The Oregon State Sheriff’s Association (OSSA) recently learned of your new organization, Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs – ORCOPS, which was apparently created in January 2015. While we fully support your stated mission of building trust between law enforcement organizations and our communities, OSSA and many of the elected sheriffs throughout the state expressed concern about your organization’s name. Their concern is that the name will inadvertently lead people to believe that elected sheriffs are represented by or are members of the organization, as the title of sheriff is a historical term that appears in the Oregon Constitution and refers to the elected office of sheriff. Obviously, the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association and individual sheriffs have a strong interest in protecting the title of sheriff and not causing confusion among voters, the general public, or the legislature.”
In response to that letter, ORCOPS has refused to change their name and states that there isn’t any confusion, although that is demonstrably false. OSSA has been contacted by a number of Senators and House Representatives, who have stated they were confused on our legislative positions as they were misled by the ORCOPS name and logo into believing that Oregon Sheriffs were part of ORCOPS. To combat this inaccurate and misleading perception, each year OSSA sends letters to every legislator to advise them of this issue and the confusion it can cause. ORCOPS has recently come out publicly with positions on various candidates and issues which in many cases direct conflict with the views of your elected Sheriffs. ORCOPS has also adopted a logo which is eerily similar to the trademarked OSSA symbol, including a depiction of Mt. Hood and trees.
Oregon police officers and deputy sheriffs serve in a noble profession and do honorable work. OSSA does not believe that the majority of those men and women are aware of and approve of the misleading name, logo and tactics of ORCOPS, or they would not stand for this deception.
ORCOPS does not represent Oregon Sheriffs, nor do they represent Oregon Chiefs of Police. Oregon legislators and the public deserves to know who is lobbying them to support a position, and not to be misled. We are calling on ORCOPS to step up and make this right.