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Ceasefire Oregon Condemns Decision in Breonna Taylor Killing and Calls For Specific Police Reform

By Penny Okamoto, Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon

Ceasefire Oregon (CO) condemns the decision announced on September 23, 2020 that a grand jury in Kentucky will charge only former Louisville Police Detective Brett Hankison with three counts of wanton endangerment in the March 13 shooting that killed Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman. Ms. Taylor was fatally shot when three plainclothes Louisville Metro Police Department officers were executing a search warrant in her apartment. Two additional officers who fired shots that ultimately killed Taylor and injured her boyfriend Kenneth Walker, were not charged.

According to the New York Times, the Louisville Metro Police Department “had received court approval for a ‘no-knock’ entry, the orders were changed before the raid to ‘knock and announce,’ meaning that the police had to identify themselves. The officers have said they did announce themselves, but Mr. Walker said he did not hear anything.”

Oregon law prohibits no-knock warrants under ORS 133.575.

Joanne Skirving, president of CO, said,  “Breonna Taylor, her family, and her community deserve justice. Today, they have been denied that justice. We call for police reform in Oregon and throughout the nation that holds law enforcement officers accountable for their actions. Our deepest sympathies are with Ms. Taylor’s loved ones.”

Ceasefire Oregon calls for:

  • mandatory implicit bias training of law enforcement officers
  • development of standards to ensure accurate data collection on officer-involved shootings
  • higher legal standards for justifiable use of lethal force

“These actions, which are outlined in the Denver Accord, will educate law enforcement officers about implicit bias and hold police officers accountable for police misconduct,” said Penny Okamoto, executive director of CO.

Mandate and increase already existing levels of implicit bias training.

Research shows that implicit knowledge of racial associations and stereotypes of Black Americans as violent criminals lead police to decide to shoot armed Black targets more quickly than armed white targets.

  • Annually, police use force on approximately one million people in the U.S. with Black individuals two to four times more likely than whites to be targeted. 
  • The Center for Policing Equity’s data-driven approach to combating racial and implicit bias has seen 26% fewer use-of-force incidents, 25% fewer arrests, and 13% fewer injuries to officers across dozens of law enforcement partners across the country.
  • Implicit bias programs should aim to reduce the influence of bias on behavior rather than alter an individual officer’s racial beliefs and feelings. 
  • Implicit bias training programs vary in quality and require systematic changes in officers’ decision-making, increased accountability, and accurate evaluations of officers’ own behavior and actions of fellow officers

Develop standards to ensure accurate data collection on police-involved shootings.

Creating a National Review Board to collect data and analyze police shootings would help advance the conversation from individual blame to spotlighting risk factors and errors that can lead to fatal interactions with police. 

Raise legal standards for justifiable use of lethal force.

A 2016 analysis of over 3,000 use-of-force incidents by three US agencies found that more restrictive lethal use-of-force policies were associated with fewer use-of-force incidents. Agency policy influences the behavior of police on the streets.

  • According to a 2018 US Commission on Civil Rights report, comprehensive data is lacking in regard to police use of force, but the “best available evidence reflects high rates of uses of force nationally, with increased likelihood of police use of force against people of color, people with disabilities, LGBT people, people with mental health concerns, people with low incomes, and those at the intersection of these communities.”
  • A 2016 review of 91 use-of-force policies found that the average police department had adopted three of the eight identified policies that place restrictions on the use of force. None of the departments adopted all eight policies.The report by Campaign Zero’s Use of Force Project found that department policies that require officers to exhaust all other means before shooting and that require comprehensive reporting of use of force incidents are each associated with 25% fewer police killings. Banning chokeholds was associated with a 22% reduction and de-escalation requirements had a 15% reduction. Police departments that had adopted more than three of the eight identified policies that restricted use of force suffered fewer officer assaults. [Is this true? I’m trying to define “better” policies re: use of force.]
  • The changes called for by Ceasefire Oregon are detailed in the Denver Accord, a comprehensive document created by GVPedia on the 20th anniversary of the Columbine massacre in Colorado. The Denver Accord is an evidence-based roadmap to reduce gun violence.


Mandate and increase already existing levels of implicit bias training

  1. Goff, P. A., Eberhardt, J. L., Williams, M. J., & Jackson, M. C. (2008). Not yet human: Implicit knowledge, historical dehumanization, and contemporary consequences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(2), 292–306.
  2. Eberhardt, J. L., Goff, P. A., Purdie, V. J., & Davies, P. G. (2004). Seeing Black: Race, Crime, and Visual Processing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(6), 876–893.
  3. Correll, J., Park, B., Judd, C. M., & Wittenbrink, B. (2002). The police officer’s dilemma: Using ethnicity to disambiguate potentially threatening individuals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(6), 1314–1329.
  4. Correll, J., Park, B., Judd, C. M., & Wittenbrink, B. (2007). The influence of stereotypes on decisions to shoot. European Journal of Social Psychology, 37(6), 1102–1117.
  5. United States Department of Justice. (2018).Contacts Between Police and the Public, 2015. (NCJ 251145)
  6. Mertes, C., Goff, P.A. (2020 January 21). The reality of racial bias [Video file].
  7. Goff, P., A, Burke, K.C., Ferreira, A., Perkins, H. (n.d.) Tactical Perception: The Science of Justice Facilitator Guide. Center for Policing Equity. National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice.
  8. Swencionis, J. K., & Goff, P. A. (2017). The psychological science of racial bias and policing. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 23(4), 398–409.

Develop standards to ensure accurate data collection on police-involved shootings.

  1. Goff, P.A., Hinton, E., Meares, T. L., Sarnoff, C. N., Tyler, T. R. (n.d.) Re-imagining Public Safety: Prevent Harm and Lead with the Truth. Center for Policing Equity and the Yale Justice Collaboratory.
  2. McEwen, T. (1996 April). National Data Collection on Police Use of Force. United States Department of Justice with the National Institute of Justice. (NCJ-160113)
  3. Sherman, L. (2018). Reducing Fatal Police Shootings as System Crashes: Research, Theory, and Practice, Annual Review of Criminology (1)1, 421-449
  4. Ouellet, M, Hashimi, S, Gravel, J, Papachristos, A.V. (2019). Network exposure and excessive use of force: Investigating the social transmission of police misconduct. Criminology Public Policy (18) 675– 704.

Raise legal standards for justifiable use of lethal force

  1. Terrill, W.,  Paoline III, E.A. (2016). Police Use of Less Lethal Force: Does Administrative Policy Matter? Justice Quarterly, DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2016.1147593
  2. United States Commission on Civil Rights. (2018 November). Police Use of Force: An Examination of Modern Policing Practices. Briefing Before The United States Commission on Civil Rights Held in Washington, DC Briefing Report. Produced by Office of Civil Rights Evaluation.
  3. McKesson, D., Sinyangwe, S.,  Elizie, J.,  Packnett, B. (2016). Police Union Contracts and Police Bill of Rights Analysis. Campaign Zero. 3-4. 
  4. Sinyangwe, S. (2016, September 20). Police Use of Force Project. Retrieved July 02, 2020 from