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Bend PD Awaits Changes To M110

BEND, OR -- Bend Police responded to more than 650 reports of drug activity in 2023. That's a couple hundred more than the previous year. But many of those involved weren’t arrested because of Measure 110. Approved by voters in 2020, M110 decriminalized user amounts of hard drugs. "Law enforcement is really hoping to see some clarification and changes to that," says Bend PD's Sheila Miller. 

Currently officers can only issue a violation and refer the person to treatment. Miller says the agency is hopeful the Oregon Legislature will take action next month, to reclassify public drug use, "From what it currently is, which is a violation, back to a misdemeanor. There’s no ability, really, to enforce a violation if you choose not to pay it or call the hotline." She says officers respend frequently to overdose calls, using the reversal drug Narcan at nearly all. Fentanyl is involved in the bulk of those. Miller tells KBND News, "I think they do feel a little bit, sometimes, that their hands are tied about what they can do when they see people who are clearly abusing drugs, beyond writing them a violation that may not go anywhere."

The Oregon Association Chiefs of Police helped create a proposal for lawmakers to overhaul Measure 110. Miller says it's, "An attempt to create a misdemeanor associated with misusing drugs in public, which I think a lot of people see out in their community and are troubled by. And also, using them in enclosed public spaces like bathrooms, where the next person who goes in could be put in danger."

Miller believes revising M110 would help protect the general public and drug users. "In the past," she says, "One of the things that we saw is when you got arrested for drug use, that allowed an issue to stop before it sort of steamrolled into something larger. And now, our officers respond pretty consistently and see people using drugs and they may issue you a violation, but there’s not much our officers can do until that drug use creates other illegal behaviors."


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