City to roll out reforms to curb bias crime

City to roll out reforms to curb bias crime »Play Video
James Campbell.

PORTLAND, Ore. - A recent attack on a group of gay men in downtown Portland has the mayor and police chief taking a hard look at bias crime and how it’s handled.

Over Memorial Day weekend James Campbell said he and his friends became the target of hateful words and blows because of their sexual orientation.

“I went in to help a friend and got knocked out into the street - like passed out in the street,” Campbell said. “Luckily there were police on the other side of the street. I’ve been told I yelled out to them and they came running over and that was the end of it.”

Campbell turned to Portland’s Q Center for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning or LGBTQ community.

He said he learned many people had been victims of bias crimes but never reported those crimes. He helped lead a forum on gay bashing there recently.

“It’s almost like the attacker wants to remove someone’s humanity and take them down to a lower level,” Campbell said.

Mayor Sam Adams and new police Chief Mike Reese are working to reform the way the city handles bias crime to ensure Portland is a city of equal opportunity.

“We can only do that if people are safe and they have a sense of safety and trust in city government and the police bureau,” Adams said.

Central Precinct officers will get enhanced training to deal with bias crimes since Adams said that’s where they seem to happen most of the time.

Additionally, a liaison officer will be assigned to the Q Center to improve relationships in the LGBTQ community, volunteer victim advocates will train to work with bias crime victims and investigators, and a foot patrol of citizens - or “Q patrol” will be set up to keep an eye out for any trouble on the streets.

With Pride Week just around the corner, more Central Precinct officers will be on patrol, according to the city.