Portland mayor withdraws consent for federal deputization of police

Multnomah County

Mayor Ted Wheeler believed the status given to some Portland officers 'was only for the duration of the declared emergency'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) –– In an unexpected turn of events, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced he’s withdrawing consent for the deputization of some of the city’s police officers. 

Wheeler, who is also the Portland police commissioner, spoke Tuesday during a community meeting about the Portland Police Bureau budget. The public had a chance to voice their concerns and ask questions

The PPB’s discretionary budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year is $211.4 million after City Council voted in July to cut the bureau’s budget by $15 million. 

A total of 56 Portland officers and 22 Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office deputies were deputized by the U.S. Marshal’s Service ahead of a right-wing demonstration and counter-protests over the weekend. 

The status means that a Portland police officer can arrest someone for a federal crime and turn the case over to a federal prosecutor instead of a state or county prosecutor. 

The designation is valid through the end of 2020. 

On Friday, Governor Kate Brown appointed the heads of Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office as joint incident commanders of protests in Portland for the 48-hour period. Brown ended the joint incident command on Sunday after the rally. 

“This afternoon, I formally requested that the U.S. Attorney withdraw that designation and I’ve also withdrawn the city’s consent for the deputization,” said Mayor Wheeler. 

Wheeler cited a misunderstanding about the terms of the officers’ deputization. 

“In conversations with the state police and other affiliated law enforcement agencies that were involved in this weekend’s activities, everyone was under the assumption –– or at least the state police or leadership at PPB was under the assumption ––the deputization was only for the duration of the declared emergency as declared by the governor,” said Wheeler. 

Wheeler also shared the following statement on the subject with KOIN 6 News:

Portland is fortunate the Governor and the Multnomah County Sheriff helped protect public safety this weekend, including by federally deputizing some Portland Police officers. Now that Governor Brown’s executive order has expired, I’ve asked the U.S. Attorney’s office to withdraw the designation. 

A key feature of the designation is that anyone who assaults a federally deputized official could be subject to federal charges. Fortunately, I am confident the Multnomah County District Attorney will continue to prosecute anyone who assaults or otherwise harms police officers or others. I take assaults against our officers seriously and so does the district attorney. We need to end the violence. Anyone engaging in illegal violent behavior, regardless of their beliefs or position, must be held accountable.

Mayor Ted Wheeler

In a statement, the U.S. Marshals Service said it “has not received a request to terminate the deputization of any officers sworn in the previous weekend.  I don’t have anything else to comment on at this time.”

City commissioners, including Joe Ann Hardesty, and other city leaders listened to the meeting. Hardesty called on Portland residents to “tell us how you want to be policed and what your idea of community safety is.” 

KOIN 6 News is waiting for a response from U.S. Attorney Billy Williams on if or when this could go into effect. 

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