No Record on Race

Data gaps throughout Oregon make it tough to understand when and why people are stopped by police. This visualization demonstrates which police departments are collecting the information about who their officers are stopping – and which aren’t.

LISTEN: Ron Louie

The Chief: Ron Louie, retired chief of the Hillsboro Police Department, was the state’s first official to collect data about the race and ethnicity of drivers his officers stopped. Other agencies, he said, were “frightened by the scrutiny of the numbers.”

Stopping the data

Fewer than 1-in-20  law enforcement agencies in Oregon collect and report detailed data on  the people they stop. This month, legislators will begin discussions on House Bill 2355, which, among other things, would force  police to  collect “stop data.”  If the bill passes, Oregon will join 19 other states, including California, in using stop data to identify possible racial profiling by police.

Discrimination by name

Oregon, in 1859, was the only state admitted to the union of 33 with a constitutional ban on black immigrants. More than 100 years later, the state’s racist history continues to impact the relationship between the black community and the criminal justice system.

LISTEN: Darrell Millner

The Historian: Darrell Millner, a professor of Black Studies at Portland State University, looks at the past and sees our present, from lash laws enforced by police, to the disparities we describe today. A podcast of the interview with Millner.

Justice disparate by race in Oregon

A project in Oregon parsed more than 5.5 million court records to find that equal justice remains an elusive goal for the state’s more than 650,000 black and Latino residents. Upon hearing the findings, the state senate’s president, Peter Courtney, called them “alarming” while Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who is leading legislative reforms on police profiling, called it “embarrassing” that reporters were first to analyze the state’s data.

Moonlighting ex-reporter’s work aids investigation

The moonlighting ex-reporter that aided a project on racial disparities in Oregon courts was employed weekdays at a job working for the government. Reporter Shasta Kearns Moore talks with Poynter’s Kelly McBride about the ethics of double-duty, and about whether reporter Kate Willson can expect to keep her day job.

About this project

The Unequal Justice project is collaboration between InvestigateWest, the Pamplin Media Group, and independent journalist Kate Willson with support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism The National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting reviewed and refined the methodology and analysis, and researcher Mark G. Harmon from the Portland State University Criminology & Criminal Justice Department provided statistical review and analysis.

Methodology

An Oregon reporting project analyzed 5.8 million criminal and violation cases comprising 8.4 million charges filed in the state’s 36 counties. It focused on 5.5 million charges filed between January 2005 and June 2016.

A history of conflict

On July 27, 1945 members of the City Club of Portland gathered in the Crystal Room of the Benson Hotel for a luncheon program to discuss “The Negro in Portland” and, specifically, to hear a report by its committee on Race Relations.