Lawmakers reviewing bills that will block police from declaring unlawful assemblies (read: riots)

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SALEM, OR– The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon is calling on legislators to examine and repeal laws that currently give police authority to declare unlawful assemblies. 

Oregon lawmakers are now considering multiple bills aimed at limiting police powers and removing some of the tools they have used over the last year to push back and disperse violent protesters who have torched and looted various areas of the state. 

House Bill 2481, if passed, would:

“Prohibit Oregon law enforcement agencies from receiving certain military surplus vehicles, aircraft, grenades, grenade launchers, and firearms silencers from the federal government. Limits what funds can be used to purchase surplus surplus military equipment from the federal government.”

It also:

“Requires law enforcement agency requesting surplus equipment to publish notice on public website within 14 days of request.”

Some criminal justice reform groups have blamed military-style weapons for equipping police with flashy incentives to use excessive force. Law enforcement groups have argued that the level of violence and destruction exhibited by rioters has left police with no choice but to utilize such tactics. 

Under the current law, police or sheriff’s deputies or any chief executive officer in Oregon such as a mayor or county, can command dispersal when five or more people, whether armed or not, are “unlawfully or riotously assembled” in any city, county, town or village.

Kelly Simon, interim legal director of the ACLU or Oregon, said:

“The law doesn’t define what constitutes an unlawful assembly and gives police too much discretion.

It’s been more frequently used against protesters demonstrating against police brutality and racial injustice and left-wing counter protesters to right-wing demonstrations than against right-wing protesters in Oregon.”

Lawmakers are also considering House Bill 3059, which would repeal the state law authorizing police “to command dispersal of unlawful assemblies and arrest participants who do not disperse.”

The bill is sponsored by state Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas) and was at the request of the ACLU. Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner argued that officers have already been working hard to hone in on violent rioters tucked into otherwise peaceful demonstrations.

Chief Skinner said:

“One of the things that we’ve tried really hard to do is to not paint the crowd with a broad brush.

We don’t assume everybody is there with criminal intent and understand that the vast majority of individuals that are assembling are there peacefully and lawfully and just want to be heard.”

He added that House Bill 3059 ignores those efforts. A third bill that legislators are considering is House Bill 2928, which would prohibit police from using pepper spray unless a mayor declares a gathering to be a riot. The bill, if passed:

“Regulates use of chemical incapacitants, kinetic impact projectiles and sound devices by law enforcement. Define riot for purposes of this section.

Prohibits the use of pepper spray unless a riot declaration has been made by a mayor or their designee or in jurisdictions not governed by a mayor, by the sheriff.”

According to the legislation, police would be required to announce their intent to deploy pepper spray at least twice before using it on rioters. Additionally, after the first announcement, they would have to allow “sufficient time” for the rioters to disperse.

Police would then be required to make a second amendment just prior to deploying the spray. The bill would also pave the way for any officer deemed to have violated the act to be charged with first-degree official misconduct.

The use of less-lethal projectiles as a method of crowd control would only be permitted in instances where officers:

“Develop probable cause against a specific person who they believe poses a threat to another’s life, poses a threat of serious injury to another or has committed or is committing a crime that constitutes a felony.”

According to the bill, officers would be prohibited from “disturbing” anyone who is providing medical assistance to another person and would under no circumstances be allowed to use pepper spray, sound devices, kinetic impact projectiles against “medical personnel, journalists, legal observers, persons providing humanitarian assistance or houseless persons.”

The bill would also strip police immunity from claims made under the Oregon Tort Claims Act pertaining to “riot, civil commotion or mob action” and would be retroactively applied in order to revive “certain claims.”

Legislators are also considering House Bill 2936, which would require law enforcement agencies to establish rules prohibiting officers from racist behaviors such as participating in “militant” or “white supremacist” groups or demonstrating “overt and explicit expressions of racism” on social media.

Having “racist” tattoos, insignia, and patches would also constitute violations under the proposed law. Any officer deemed to have violated those rules must be reported to the district attorney’s office within two weeks.

According to the legislation, the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training would also be tasked with investigation an applicant’s “character” before the applicant would be allowed to train and certify as a reserve officer or sworn officer. 

The investigation would include “a racial bias and sympathy test” as well as a look into the applicant’s financial and psychiatric information. 

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Sen. Murphy proposes legislation to remove resource officers from schools (despite Sandy Hook massacre in his state)

January 31st, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), along with three other lawmakers, introduced a bill that would pave the way to remove school resource officers (SRO) nationwide and replace them with a counseling system.

In a press release from July 30, 2020, Murphy said:

“Tens of thousands of kids are arrested at school every single year and a disproportionate number of these students are black and latino.”

Reportedly, that are more than 10,000 SROs currently serving in schools across the county, including in Connecticut. Their goal is and always has been to protect children. 

However, this new legislation push argues that their presence has the opposite effect. When Murphy introduced the “Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act,” he was joined by other progressive Democrats, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar. Murphy said:

“Police shouldn’t be in schools. There are plenty of better ways to ensure that our schools are safe places to learn.”

He argued that students get arrested for minor things, which introduces them to the juvenile system at an early age and makes it potentially bright future much more difficult. He wrote:

“If we are going to begin to tackle systemic racism in this country, we must start by addressing the racial inequalities in our education system, and getting police out of classrooms is a necessary first step.”

Some parents are understanding of this proposed legislation, but the majority of the thousands responding to Murphy’s Facebook post did not agree. They worry about school safety. Casey Calvert of Vernon wrote:

“We’re living in a scary world, so you never know when police will be needed.”

Before becoming a senator, Murphy was a Congressional Representative for Newtown during the horrific school shooting at Sandy Hook where on December 14, 2012, 20 school children and six adults were killed.

Back in 2017, Murphy told CNN that it would feel like a “personal failure” if he doesn’t make progress on the issue and “epidemic” of gun violence. He said:

“It wasn’t that I didn’t have an emotional connection to the issues that I worked on prior to Sandy Hook, but this was different. This was a calling and a mission in a way that I had never felt before.”

Since Sandy Hook, there have been over 400 school shootings. In 2018, there were 97 school shooting incidents at K-12 schools in the U.S., which is more than any other year on record. 

Now, just eight years after Sandy Hook and at a time that gun violence is at an all-time high, Murphy is pushing for police to be out of schools. When announcing the “Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act,” Murphy referenced Sandy Hook and said:

“In Connecticut, in the wake of a horrific school shooting, many schools hired police officers to enhance the peace of mind of parents. But, not we have plenty of evidence to show that there are far better ways to ensure kids’ safety and that these police officers are contributing to a civil rights crisis that we must address.”

If the legislation were to pass, not only would the bill divert federal funding away from supporting officers in schools, it would also support local agencies that want to terminate their contracts with police departments.

School resource officers in Annapolis, Maryland may soon only enter schools mainly during an emergency, a plan the bill sponsor says will help minority students feel more comfortable. Police reiterate that this bill presents safety concerns.

The bill, SB0245, sponsored by Sen. Arthur Ellis (D-Charles), establishes numerous restrictions on school resource officers. This bill prohibits SROs from entering schools “except under certain circumstances.”

The bill also requires that SROs wear street clothes rather than a police uniform, while concealing their firearm unless needed. Clyde Boatwright, president of the Maryland State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police said that his organization plans to testify against the bill due to concerns over school safety. He said:

“It would put our school in great danger for attacks from the outside if we didn’t have our school officers staged in the building.”

An SRO responded to a fatal shooting at Great Mills High School in 2018 within one minute, returning a single round of fire before the shooter, who killed one student and wounded another, committed suicide.

The Maryland Safe to Learn Act of 2018 required schools to prove they either have a designated school resource officer or “adequate local law enforcement coverage.”

Now, with the introduction of this new bill, Maryland school systems will move away from the legislation that was passed in 2018. Just a year ago, local school boards in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties considered putting an end to their SRO program. 

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Sen. Chris Murphy calls police racist, demands replacing them with counselors in schools

July 30th, 2020

This editorial is brought to you by a former Chief of Police and staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

WASHINGTON, D.C.- For those of us who live in the northeastern part of the country, we have the unfortunate honor of having the most ignorant, tone-deaf, angry partisan people representing us in the United States Senate.

From Schumer and Gillibrand in New York, to Warren and Markey in Massachusetts, the northeast has it’s fair share of clowns in the upper chamber of Congress.

However, no state can compare to the two senators from Connecticut, “Da Nang” Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. Clearly though, when it comes to ignorant buffoons, Murphy takes the prize.

Considering he represents the state where the most egregious school shooting in history took place, it is shocking that he thinks it’s a great idea to remove police from the schools.

On Thursday, Murphy, along with the other clowns in the clown car, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, along with left-wing Marxist sympathizers Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) introduced a bill which would remove school resource officers from schools and replace them with counselors, WFSB in Hartford reported.

 

“Tens of thousands of kids are arrested at school every single year and a disproportionate number of these students are black and Latino,” Murphy said.

According to WFSB, there are currently more than 10,000 SROs serving in schools nationwide, with the goal of protecting children.

The problem as we see it is that some schools view the police that are assigned as SROs in their schools as the disciplinary arm of the school system, which was never the intent.

Yes, police officers are there to do their job in enforcing the law, however in many cases, schools used the police to enforce school rules, which sometimes led to pushback from the students which escalated to criminal violations.

It seems like, at least in some cases, schools didn’t want to deal with their own disruptive students and called the SRO in to do so.

Murphy said that SROs don’t make schools safer.

“It’s time to get police officers out of our schools,” Murphy said. “The evidence shows these officers don’t make our schools and (sic) safer. In fact, research has shown [they] can increase physical danger to young people.”

The chief of the Wolcott (CT) Police Department, Ed Stephens disagrees with Murphy’s assessment. His town has three SROs in the school system, and he says they are absolutely beneficial.

“Our function in the school is to protect the students from outsiders coming into the school. That’s the number one function to keeping those children safe,” Stephens said.

He also said that the police are there to develop relationships with the kids.

“Their function is to build rapport with students. We don’t want children in schools to be afraid of the police., we want to see them as a friend. It’s like the old beat cop in the neighborhood. They’re the beat cops in the schools,” the chief said.

Likewise, the superintendent of the Stratford (CT) Schools said that while she could see both sides, she agreed that the program could be beneficial.

“My way of looking at SROs is let’s show students as they’re growing up that police officers are interested in their well-being,” Janet Robinson said.

Ironically, Robinson was the superintendent in Newtown, CT., when the Sandy Hook school shooting took place in that community. Twenty first graders and six staff members were killed in that incident, which led to a hue and cry for additional police officers in schools as SROs.

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In 1999, two gunmen entered Columbine High School in Columbine, CO., where twelve students and one teacher were murdered. At that time, there was an armed officer in the building, a deputy with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, who actually engaged with the gunmen and called for assistance over the radio. Had that deputy not been on scene, it is likely many more students and/or teachers would have been massacred.

Robinson also said that she didn’t want kids to get arrested.

“The officer really has to be able to identify with the kids and really be personable and so that I’ve seen, I’ve seen a very successful SRO and it’s phenomenal. I’ve seen several successful ones and that does matter,” she said.

“I have an SRO in one of my schools and walks into the cafeteria at lunch time and high five him, they talk to him, he can talk to the kids if the kids have a little problem. Just talk to them about it,” Robinson said.

Murphy is always quick to criticize police officers, yet he has been silent on the violent riots taking place in cities nationwide, which have included violent assaults on police officers. Murphy, like all of the Democrats is more worried about November 3 than he is about keeping the country, and apparently the students safe. This bill is another slap in the face to police, which we have come to expect from this in-over-his-head dipstick.

In his bill called the “Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act,” Murphy is quoted as saying, “Police shouldn’t be in schools There are plenty of better ways to ensure that our schools are safe places to learn.”

He claimed that students are arrested for minor things and get into the juvenile justice system early, which makes a potentially bright future much more difficult.

“If we are going to begin to tackle systemic racism in this country, we must start by addressing the racial inequities in our education system. And getting police out of classrooms is a necessary first step,” he wrote.

Parents and his constituents, however, disagree with Murphy and he heard about it on his Facebook page, with a majority opposing the bill. Murphy got absolutely eviscerated by some of the responses. Parents said that the safety of students demanded it.

“We’re living in a scary world, so you never know when [police] will be needed,” said Casey Calvert of Vernon.

“So instead of bridging relationships you think its better to divide? Our school resource officer is a mentor to our kids. BTW the teachers union is going to give you an earful,” said Christian Calemmo.

And, our favorite, from Janet R Mariano- “We the people said NO to removing police. We are your boss Chris, your (sic) not listening to us. You are a puppet for the Democratic party attempting to destroy our country. You need to go!!!” 

One post in particular was directed to Law Enforcement Today. It was posted by someone on their page and Murphy was tagged in it. She attached this letter to it:

Lawmakers reviewing bills that will block police from declaring unlawful assemblies (read: riots)
Chris Murphy Letter Facebook Page screenclip

“Years ago you sent this letter to me upon reading an article about me in the Hartford Courant. You even hand wrote a ‘congrats’ message. 

“As a young woman living in Newtown during the wake of Sandy Hook how can you say schools doe not need SROs? I always knew I wanted to do this job, but after seeing and living through my hometown suffer[ing] so much heartache and grief after the elementary school shooting, I made it my mission to become a police officer. 

“I am not the 1% and either are my brother and sister officers who to this day would run towards danger with me while the rest of the world, including you run the other way. 

“Six years ago I fit your political agenda. Today I don’t” 

To show you exactly how tone-deaf Murphy and the rest of the anti-police, pro-criminal crowd are, keep this in mind. Murphy was the Congressional representative in the district where Sandy Hook is located prior to somehow getting elected to the Senate. In fact, Murphy addressed that shooting in pushing to remove SROs from schools.

“In Connecticut, in the wake of a horrific school shooting, many schools hired police officers to enhance the peace of mind of parents. But now we have plenty of evidence to show that there are far better ways to ensure kids’ safety and that these police officers are contributing to a civil rights crisis that we must address.”

Brian Foley, who used to be the Deputy Chief in Hartford but now has gone to the dark side as a state employee appointed as the assistant to the commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection spoke to that.

“I think it’s up to the schools to decide how they’re going to protect their students and what’s the best way to do that. I think there’s a lot of opinion out there, but there are certainly statistics and data to support that taking officers out of schools lowers arrests in schools,” Foley said.

So, let’s go back to Murphy’s statement, “…there are far better ways to ensure kids’ safety…”

At Sandy Hook, besides the 20 children who were killed, other victims included Rachel D’Avino, a behavioral therapist, Anne Marie Murphy a special education teacher, Mary Sherlach, a school psychologist, and  two teachers, Victoria Leigh Soto and Lauren Rousseau, and Dawn Hochsuprung, the principal of the school.

Bureaucrats such as Murphy feel that putting more nurses, psychologists, behavioral therapists and so on will make the kids safer. The Sandy Hook shooting shows just how absurd that statement is.

This type of “logic” is the same as those who suggest that sending counselors to domestic disturbances, among the most dangerous and potentially violent calls police respond to, is a good idea. 

Clearly, if there was an armed officer on-scene at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, we would likely not have 20 dead children and six dead adults.

SROs in other schools across the country have also prevented school shootings and we don’t know how many were prevented because a would-be shooter knew there was an SRO in the building.

There are also other benefits to having SROs in school. According to the Chicago Tribune, a two-year study conducted by Canada’s Carleton University of an SRO program in Toronto, which covered five high schools showed that it had prevented or minimized property damage, injuries and deaths from violence and drug overdoses, and reduced the need for 911 calls.

In addition, the same study showed that the SRO program increased the likelihood that students would receive necessary social services and healthcare help and would also enhance feelings of safety among students and staff. In conclusion, the report said that for every dollar invested in an SRO program, at least $11.13 of “social and economic value was created.”

It should be noted that all the sponsors of this bill—Murphy, Warren, Omar, and Pressley have been outspoken in advocating for defunding of police.

It should also be noted that not ONE sponsor of this bill has spoken out against the violence rampaging through our major cities.

SLikewise, not ONE sponsor of this bill has condemned the violent assaults on police officers across the country, where officers have been shot, stabbed, attacked with professional grade fireworks, been bombarded with bricks, rocks, frozen water bottles and all manner of objects, with three officers who may be permanently blinded after being targeted with lasers to their eyes. NOT ONE!

I have known and still know officers that serve in the capacity of school resource officers. In fact, I also served as a school resource officer. All of the officers I know that serve in that capacity are caring, dedicated, and concerned officers.

Men and women who serve in the capacity of SROs have a strong belief in what they are doing, and are there for the right reasons…to serve as a resource for students and staff, to portray a positive image of law enforcement officers, and to develop relationships with the kids so they trust the police.

I have personally experienced a student who had developed a relationship with me that led to a child abuse arrest and conviction, all because the student trusted me. I have seen this numerous other times in my career among other officers.

However as always, far-left Democrats want to throw out the baby with the bath water.

Instead of looking at ways where SROs could be better utilized and try to integrate them into an overall school safety and student advocate program, they look at this as a way to once again demonize police officers, because at the end of the day, all that stands between a lawful society, which Democrats clearly don’t want and tyranny, which Democrats clearly do want is the police.

Chris Murphy once again proves why it’s such an embarrassment to have this numbnut representing Connecticut in the Senate.

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