Over the past decade, Oregon witnessed the sixth-highest number of domestic violent extremism incidents in the nation. The troubling increase of domestic violent extremism in recent years, both in Oregon and nationwide, indicates a clear risk to Oregonians that requires a strategic, informed response.
Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and the Oregon Audits Division released an advisory report March 30 that addresses this risk and identifies efforts Oregon state agencies can undertake to thwart it.
“Oregon must be an inclusive place where everyone is and feels safe,” said Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. “The rise in domestic terrorism is an immediate threat to Oregonians and we cannot simply wait for the next incident to occur. We can and must take immediate steps to prevent individuals at risk from being radicalized and becoming violent.”
Auditors found the state lacks some of the tools present in the governance framework of other states. Key findings include:
- Oregon is one of only 16 states that does not have any legislation defining or criminalizing domestic terrorism or domestic violent extremism at the state level. Such legislation may provide the state with mechanisms to mitigate future risk.
- The Oregon Homeland Security council is set up to govern the challenges, but it can do more to focus on domestic violent extremism by establishing a specific statewide strategy, with measurable outcomes, for countering violent extremism risks.
- Identifying individuals at risk of becoming violent is critical to threat management. Current law enforcement and state employee training is limited. Increased opportunities for training statewide may increase effectiveness in identifying potential threats.
Ultimately, Oregonians continue to be at risk from the trauma caused by these incidents, which can have lingering effects and may have a greater impact on communities already suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic or racial injustice. This continued trauma can impede the ability of individuals and communities to succeed, thrive, and enjoy their economic, social, and cultural rights.
While the report is not technically an audit under government auditing standards, it has undergone the same quality assurance process as an audit from the Oregon Audits Division. Issuing an advisory report allowed for a timelier project to recognize the impact on state agencies and other involved entities as other emergency events were being addressed.
Read the full report on the Secretary of State website below or at https://sos.oregon.gov/audits/Documents/2022-12.pdf.