PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Police Bureau Lt. Jeff Niiya has been cleared of any wrongdoing concerning texts he exchanged with Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson before and during protests in downtown Portland.
The Portland Police Review Board shared the investigation’s findings in a Thursday afternoon press conference at the Justice Center on SW 2nd Avenue.
The Board reviewed thousands of text messages over a two-year period, and found that Niiya’s bosses had told him to contact protest leaders on both sides to try and avoid violent clashes. Ultimately, they found no evidence that Niiya had disclosed information inappropriately, was unprofessional, or was unfair.
“In retrospect, it would have been better had I been more overt about giving Lt. Niiya the benefit of the doubt,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler at Thursday’s press conference.
After the investigation’s findings were announced, KOIN 6’s Lisa Balick spoke with Gibson, who said he felt badly for Niiya. “He was treated unfairly–he sent text messages to myself and Antifa,” said Gibson. “I’m glad Wheeler admits he made a mistake.”
The Bureau is also making some changes as a result of the text messaging controversy by sending crowd control liaison officers to training in Canada.
The full catalog of documents reviewed during the investigation can be viewed here.
“After an exhaustive review of communications between Lieutenant Jeff Niiya and a variety of community event organizers, I determined the allegations of violations of policy to be unfounded,” said Chief Danielle Outlaw. “At every level of review there was not a sustained finding. It is important for the public to have the whole picture, which is one reason why we are publicly releasing the investigative files.”
The investigation was reviewed by officials with the Independent Police Review, a Captain, an Assistant Chief, and the Police Review Board, which was comprised of both community members and PPB personnel.