SALEM, Ore. (KPTV) — The Oregon Senate on Thursday passed a bill that changes rules about when law enforcement can use tear gas.
It has been used numerous times in Portland during the protests following the killing of George Floyd.
Some demonstrators were injured and neighbors complained of gas seeping into their homes.
Oregon lawmakers passed a package of police reform bills that included restrictions on the use of tear gas. Police were banned from using crowd control tactics unless a riot was declared.
While civil rights groups backed the move, law enforcement pushed back, saying it prevented them from containing dangerous situations.
Under this new legislation, tear gas can be used when it is “objectively reasonable” to do so. These reasons include defense against threat to life or serious bodily harm.
“Giving our law enforcement the guidance they need to maintain the highest levels of integrity and preserve public safety is central to the bill,” said Sen. James Manning Jr. (D) .
The bill adds further requirements for police to use tear gas. They should try other de-escalation techniques first. They should also announce that they are about to use tear gas and give people enough time to get rid of it.
The ACLU says it is deeply concerned about this bill, saying in part: “State lawmakers are about to pass a law with an unclear standard that can be used by police to justify their use of tear gas and ammunition weapons against protesters, bystanders, our communities and our environment.”
The bill is now set for its final reading at Oregon House on Saturday. The legislative session ends Monday.
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