WATCH: Chief Skinner talks police accountability amid protests

The Eugene Police Department held a press conference on Friday.

Posted: Jun 5, 2020 1:56 PM
Updated: Jun 5, 2020 5:38 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner held a press conference on Friday to address police accountability.

It followed a full week of protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man killed at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

"I am very pleased with the people that are coming out to be heard and are still angry and frustrated with what happened in Minnesota," he said Friday. "Making sure we have the right individuals in this community wearing this uniform -- I talk often about what we saw in Minnesota with Mr. Floyd was not a training issue, it was not a misapplied technique, it wasn't a lack of training, it was a character issue."

When it comes to keeping the peace here in Eugene, he agreed that mistakes have been made, including announcing a curfew on Sunday 30 minutes before it was enforced.

KEZI asked if Skinner believed people were given enough warning Sunday before action was taken -- whether that be arrests or methods used to disperse people.

"What I will tell you is that hindsight makes us a whole lot smarter and in hindsight the answer to your question is no," he said.

Sunday night crowds of protestors were met with tear gas and pepper balls -- including one journalist who was struck by a round launched by a Eugene officer. Now people are wondering if the officer will face consequences.

"We have a long list of -- a fairly detailed process we have to get through before we decide whether something is justified or unjustified and we would be doing a disservice to rush to judgement," said Skinner.

Skinner talked about police force accountability, introducing Mark Gissiner, the chief auditor for the department.

Gissiner is a private auditor -- he does not answer to the police force, which means he investigates all acts of misconduct independently. But certain laws make it difficult for him to share what he finds.

"There are 458 exemptions in the state of Oregon and I think at times that ties our hands with communicating with the community and the media about what happens here," he said.

Watch the full video here:

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