(Put your) Hands up, Don’t Shoot! Exploring the Social Dynamics of Police Shootings in Portland, Oregon 1992-2017

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Leanne SERBULO, Portland State University, USA
The protest movement that emerged in response to the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and others focused international attention on police shootings in the U.S. Despite the contemporary primacy of this issue, there is a surprising dearth of information about the size, scope, impacts, and policy outcomes of police-involved shootings, due in part, to a lack of reliable data reporting by local and national police agencies. Portland, Oregon has seen its share of police-involved shootings and subsequent movements advocating for police reform and accountability. The city is currently under a federal consent decree for systematically violating the rights of mentally ill residents. In 1992, Portland Copwatch, a grassroots organization that was founded in response to the police shooting of a 12 year old hostage named Nathan Thomas, began compiling a database of all police-involved shootings in the city. This study uses information from Portland Copwatch database supplemented with data collected from local newspapers to explore the social dynamics of police shootings in Portland from 1992-2017. The research will examine whether African American, mentally ill, and people perceived to be homeless are disproportionately likely to be shot by the police. It will also look at which types of calls and encounters led to police use of deadly force and will explore how community responses to police shootings and/or policy changes impacted law enforcement’s use of force in ensuing years.