PORTLAND, Ore. -- Mayor Ted Wheeler on Thursday tweeted that Portland City Council unanimously approved “critical police reforms,” including getting rid of the 48-hour rule, which gives police officers who use deadly force two days before granting interviews.
Wheeler said officers involved in a fatal shooting will now have to provide a statement as soon as possible.
"We have finally done away with the so-called 48-hour rule, and will now require officers involved in the use of deadly force to provide a statement to internal affairs investigators as soon as possible after an incident," Wheeler said.
Previously, Portland officers had 48 hours to talk with attorneys before having to give interviews to investigators or make public statements. Former Mayor Charlie Hales struck down the rule but last month reports surfaced that police were trying to reinstate the rule, and possibly give officers even more time before interviews.
In March, the Multnomah County District Attorney issued a decision that supported the rule and brought the issue back to the forefront. Rod Underhill said that a 1982 Oregon Supreme Court decision prevents compelled interviews. A subsequent memo from the Oregon Department of Justice acknowledged there are gray areas in the law.
Wheeler challenged those opinions, saying, “I am not convinced a case from 1982, which did not deal with the question of concurrent employment and criminal investigations, should be the final word on issues critical to police accountability and public trust today.”
In response, Underhill said he determined through legal analysis that a criminal investigation is needed before compelling a statement from officers who used deadly force.
Police use of deadly force has made headlines over the past few years, with officers involved in many high-profile cases – some, such as the Philando Castile shooting, were captured on camera – being exonerated.
In Portland, the most recent controversial use of force case involved 17-year-old Quanice Hayes. A grand jury found the officer, Andrew Hearst, justified in using deadly force when he shot and killed Hayes during a burglary investigation.