Police union: PPB lieutenant was doing his job


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Police Commanding Officers Association is standing by a PPB lieutenant involved in what some have called a friendly relationship with the far-right group, Patriot Prayer. 

On Thursday, the Portland Police Bureau released hundreds of pages of text and email documents between Lt. Jeff Niiya, the head of the PPB’s Rapid Response Team, and Joey Gibson, the leader of Vancouver-based Patriot Prayer. 

Click to read texts, emails

Backlash was swift. Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty demanded an independent investigation. Demonstrators gathered outside of City Hall. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also the police commissioner, called the documents “disturbing” and added that they “confirm people’s worst fears.”

But the Portland Police Commanding Officers Association — the union that represents Niiya — said it was Niiya’s job to establish relationships with known demonstration organizers. 

PPB Lt. Craig Morgan, president of the association, criticized Wheeler and Hardesty for responding in a way that “feels like a rush of judgment.” 

“I understand that it might appear one-sided and that Niiya is speaking more with Patriot Prayer than Antifa,” said Morgan. “The reason it appears lopsided I think is because it’s been more receptive from Patriot Prayer.” 

Wheeler has since agreed to seek an independent investigation to “review the existence of bias in the actions of the PPB leading up to and during demonstrations involving alt-right and anti-fascist protesters.” 

But Morgan said, if anything, a closer examination will vindicate Niiya. 

“I am very confident that by the time all of this is looked at, not only will they find that not only Lt. Niiya was within PPB policies, but that it was appropriate and designed with the intent of making Portland safe.” 

Read the full statement from the PPCCOA below: 

“The Portland Police Commanding Officers Association (PPCOA) is disappointed in Mayor Wheeler and Commissioner Hardesty’s comments and rush to judgement regarding the communication between Lieutenant Jeff Niiya and Patriot Prayer Leader Joey Gibson. Such comments may serve to enflame and prejudice any administrative investigation and its outcome. The PPCOA is confident the investigation will reveal that Lieutenant Niiya was acting in the best interest of the City of Portland and its community members. Lieutenant Niiya’s actions were within Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Directives and Policy. Lieutenant Niiya was given direction by PPB Management to establish relationships with known event or demonstration organizers to assist the Bureau in its planning and to develop a shared understanding of the organizers’ needs and objectives. Furthermore, PPCOA believes the investigation will show Lieutenant Niiya always communicated with dignity, courtesy, and respect.”

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story. 

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