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Friday, January 25, 2008

Veteran Police Official Urges Legislature to Reject Driver's License Plan

Yesterday, Ron Louie, a veteran Oregon law enforcement official with over 33 years of experience, responded to new driver's license restrictions requiring proof of citizenship and/or legal residency to obtain an Oregon driver's license. In his OP-ED, which appeared in The Oregonian, Mr. Louie highlighted the impact the new rules will have on the treatment of immigrants and public safety, and calls on the Oregon Legislature to reject such a plan.

Halt the driver's license plan

By Ron Louie

As a police official with over 33 years of law enforcement experience, 20 of those years leading the Astoria and Hillsboro police departments as chief of police, I feel compelled to add my perspectives to the current debate over requiring proof of citizenship and/or legal residency to obtain an Oregon driver's license.

Each of the communities I served as chief valued my outreach to and interactions with community residents of every ethnicity and status. As police chief, it was my mandate to ensure public safety which was accomplished by establishing the policies and goals that lead the crime-fighting, peace-keeping and problem-resolution efforts of the officers. Many times government officials have a tendency to seek policies that on the surface seem either politically expedient or a simple solution to a greater, more complex problem. But once implemented, these policies produce adverse and unintended impacts that may almost negate what we were trying to accomplish.

Mandating proof of citizenship or residency status before issuing a driver's license will have the unintended consequence of increasing unlicensed and uninsured drivers. More and more people will be on Oregon roadways without any benefit of a skills driving test. The most profound consequences will be seen in the Latino community, encouraging otherwise law-abiding aliens to commit serious traffic offenses. People who will be required to drive in connection with their livelihood, in the course of good parenting or attending worship may become involved in accidents. They may then be cited for driving without a license they cannot obtain, face suspensions of their right to apply for a license, and ultimately may be jailed. This represents treatment of immigrants never imagined by our forefathers. Therefore, this mandate would not benefit the public or the undocumented resident of Oregon. >>read on


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