Report: Training needed to prevent profiling
PORTLAND — A new report says Oregon Department of Justice employees don't receive enough training on preventing racial profiling.
Portland attorney Carolyn Walker performed a four-month independent investigation of the department's surveillance of Black Lives Matter supporters last fall, The Bend Bulletin reported. Her findings were released Monday.
Civil rights groups called for the independent investigation after a Criminal Justice Division employee created a report on a fellow DOJ employee who expressed support for the racial equality movement on his public Twitter page. The investigator told his supervisors he believed the tweets posed a potential threat to police and was given permission to compile a written report on his colleague.
The investigator who compiled the report worked for a part of the Criminal Justice Division called the TITAN Fusion Center, which works with federal agencies primarily on counterterrorism and drug-related offenses. The employee has since been placed on paid administrative leave.
His actions violated First Amendment protections, Walker's report concluded. She also wrote that some investigators she interviewed didn't know about laws and guidelines that protect free speech online.
"There has been no training on racial bias in the context of determining threats, and no training on racial profiling issues," Walker went on. "They have received no training on cultural competency or hidden biases."
Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum convened the independent investigation in November. She had heard in October that that head of the DOJ's Department of Justice's Civil rights Unit Erious Johnson was the subject of a search that was social and political in nature, and "expressed her extreme displeasure ... because she believed (the investigator) had engaged in racial profiling," according to Walker's report.
The investigator came across Johnson's Twitter profile by searching for the hashtag "#BlackLivesMatter." Johnson had shared cartoons and other commentary on the recent high-profile police killings of black Americans on his Twitter page.
The name of the investigator was redacted in Walker's report and the DOJ has declined to name him.
The department declined to comment on personnel issues Monday.