News & Politics

Oregon Governor's New Portland Police Plan Goes up in Smoke as Neighboring Counties Say No Thanks

Police in Oregon (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)

On Sunday, after internal polling became available the day after the deadly shooting of a Trump supporter in downtown Portland, Ore., Governor Kate Brown released a comprehensive policing plan to quell the riots. The plan called for federal, state, and county back-up support for the Portland Police Bureau. In addition to Oregon State Police, Brown’s plan requested the assistance of sheriff’s offices in neighboring Washington and Clackamas Counties. In a now-familiar pattern of incompetence, however, Brown failed to inform the other agencies of her request prior to going public. When informed of Brown’s plan, Washington County and Clackamas County both, not so politely, declined.

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The statement from Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett reads, in part:

At this time, I do not plan to send deputies to work directly in Portland. PPB is a terrific partner and I am very sympathetic to what they are enduring. However, the lack of political support for public safety, the uncertain legal landscape, the current volatility combined with intense scrutiny on use of force presents an unacceptable risk if deputies were deployed directly. Lastly, I support the steps outlined in the Joint Media Release by the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association and the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, and remain committed to work with partners and community leaders towards peace and an end to violence.

According to the Portland Tribune, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts released a statement and answered questions about his decision:

The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office responded with the following statement: “The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office will not be sending our staff into the city of Portland. We will assist the Oregon State Police with their calls for service in Clackamas County as needed while their resources are deployed in Portland.”

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said Brown did not divulge her Unified Law Enforcement Plan with his agency before making it public. Roberts said if he had been made aware of it, “I would have told her it’s about changing policy not adding resources. Increasing law enforcement resources in Portland will not solve the nightly violence and now, murder. The only way to make Portland safe again is to support a policy that holds offenders accountable for their destruction and violence. That will require the DA to charge offenders appropriately and a decision by the Multnomah County Presiding Judge not to allow offenders released on their own recognizance, and instead require bail with conditions.”

Brown also included the police department for the suburb of Gresham in her request. That department, too, declined:

A spokesperson for the Gresham police told The Oregonian, “We are in agreement with the other agencies.”

And in a statement released on Monday, the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police and Oregon State Sheriff’s Association said they would not dedicate “limited resources” from their own communities.

“Unfortunately, due to the lack of support for public safety operations, the associated liability to agencies who would be assisting in Portland and the lack of accountability for those arrested committing criminal acts, we cannot dedicate our limited resources away from the communities we serve,” the statement read. “We know there will already be an additional burden on local law enforcement agencies as Oregon State Police Troopers are re-assigned to assist in Portland.”

The groups added that they wanted “a strong statement” from elected leaders saying “that criminal acts are not legitimate protest and that those who commit crimes will be held accountable.”

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Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli tweeted that this was “sad but understandable.”

Perhaps Kate Brown should have remembered that Clackamas and Washington Counties had pulled out of mutual aid agreements with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department after getting hosed on indemnification:

Neighboring police agencies are rethinking helping Portland police except in major emergencies in the wake of a million-dollar judgment against Washington County and Hillsboro awarded after their officers wounded a man while helping Portland police with a search warrant.

Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett has ordered his deputies not to take any enforcement action in Portland unless there’s a direct tie to their casework in Washington County.

Clackamas County is thinking of following suit. Vancouver [Wash.] police plan to review the department’s mutual aid agreements this year.

In that case, Multnomah County refused to indemnify its partner agencies against liability, violating their trust and costing taxpayers money.

As riots continue in downtown Portland and expand to Mayor Wheeler’s condo building, one wonders what it will take for Kate Brown to show actual support for law enforcement and stop the violence once and for all. We know Ted Wheeler won’t do it. We know Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt won’t do it (after pledging not to prosecute riot crimes despite state law requiring him to do just that).

Will any Oregon leader actually lead?

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, and on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds.

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