A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Now, in minor crimes, ‘we can’t hold them’

Written August 9th, 2022 by Hasso Hering

Councilwoman Bessie Johnson listens via Zoom to Monday’s discussion at the council’s work session about the effects of Senate Bill 48.

Maybe it wasn’t what Democrats in the legislature had in mind, but the effect of a new law they passed as Senate Bill 48 is that there’s not much law enforcement can do about minor crimes such as shoplifting or trespassing.

That’s the gist of what municipal court Judge Forrest Reid, Albany Police Chief Marcia Harnden and Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan have told the city council.

The discussion took place during Monday’s council work session, and you can watch and listen to the whole thing on YouTube here.

Introduced at the request of the governor, SB 48 passed the state Senate on June 23, 2021, with 22 yes votes including that of Sen. Sara Gelser Blouin, D-Corvallis/Albany. Seven Republicans voted no.

It passed the House two days later, 39-16. Among the “no” votes was that of Rep. Shelly Boshart Davis, R-Albany.

The measure was billed as a reform of the system of requiring bail or “security” before releasing someone accused of a crime. Specifically, the bill directed Oregon’s chief justice and the presiding judges in each court district to issue standing pretrial release orders.

The result, Reid said, is that police can’t do anything about misdemeanors other than to cite and release the person accused.

“We can’t hold them,” the judge said, even if it’s the fifth time that someone is arrested for the same thing.

If a suspect fails to appear in court, there will be an arrest warrant. And when the warrant is served , the person is released again, only to not appear again. Apparently this process can repeat itself forever.

Councilwoman Matilda Novak wondered why, if the law is that bad, “we have to abide by it.”

Because it’s the law, the judge explained, and people in law enforcement take an oath to uphold the law.

Nothing came of the council discussion, except a general expression of frustration with what the legislature had done. Mayor Alex Johnson and others said they would talk to legislators.

The police chief also reminded the council about the effects of Ballot Measure 110, passed by a majority of Oregon voters in 2020, which legalized user amounts of drugs such as heroin.

One of the effects is that if people call the police about someone smoking crack in front of their house, there’s not much the police can do.

Another is that the number of accidental overdoses from drugs such as fentanyl is way up.  The chief said the police, besides trying to catch the dealers, are trying to warn especially young people about the danger, and the mayor said he’d help.

As if that’s not enough to worry about, the council voted to consider, on Wednesday night, final passage of a city ordinance putting a two-year ban on the local manufacture or use in therapy of psilocybin mushrooms, as allowed by another voter-passed initiative.

Nobody at Monday’s meeting seemed to be concerned about how such a temporary ban might be enforced. (hh)


5 responses to “Now, in minor crimes, ‘we can’t hold them’”

  1. hj.anony1 says:

    Goodness! Watching now. Fun. Y’all should too!

    Bessie! You need to get back in the OFFICE!
    We can see you shake your head in negativity often.

    Get back…..

  2. Hartman says:

    If only the City Council could just get the streets paved. But no! Rather, they are are once again attempting to ignore the will of Oregonians. To consider banning psilocybin mushrooms for two years is reminiscent of this same council attempting to derail the will of its citizens when it came time to legalize cannabis.

    This deliberate attempt to thwart the will of the electorate clearly demonstrates how a certain rank element in Albany’s caste system is once again dictating to the great unwashed “how things are gonna be.”

    When thinking about Albany’s top-down, back-glancing, autocratic leaning leadership, we would all do well to listen carefully to the words of our most recent past-president when he said, “One of the key problems today is that good people don’t go into government.” And he oughta know cuz his home a Mar-a-Lardo just got raided.

  3. thomas earl cordier says:

    Thanks HH for identifying the Dem’s as the problem. Both in Oregon and the Nation.
    The Dem mafia–pres,vp, Doj Garland, Brown, FBI all need to be removed by whatever means necessary-peacefully. Hoping the ADH will post daily the names of those
    arrested/released and reason for their arrest. This is another case where Rep’s should have vacated the legislature to deny a quorum to stop legislation

  4. centrist says:

    Hartman tries to make many points. It’s obvious he dislikes the guy who lost soundly and squarely to Biden
    TEC comes dangerously close to a threat to overthrow the government.(“by any means”)
    I suggest that the Mayor, et al contact their peers in other cities to bring weight to the errors in the law.

  5. Richard Vannice says:

    Question – Even if this law had not been enacted where would the City Police lodge a violator? As I recall they do not have a jail! May have a “holding” area but question whether that would be acceptable.
    Don’t mistake – I believe that this was another law enacted by a bunch of sheep in Salem who either don’t , or can’t, read nor do they really understand what they are writing.


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