PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s new strategy to protect free speech and end the nightly violence in Portland calls on the help of law enforcement agencies that haven’t been involved in the protests, two of the agencies now say they will not be sending its deputies directly into the city.
Brown’s strategy, which was released Sunday, will utilize more local, state and federal law enforcement resources to help the Portland Police Bureau spend more time on investigations and arresting violent protesters. The plan calls on Oregon State Police to continue assisting the PPB while the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office will need to maintain enough space in its jail to hold anyone booked for violent behavior.
But Brown has also asked the Clackamas and Washington county sheriff’s offices and the Gresham Police Department to provide personnel and resources to the PPB. All three agencies told KOIN 6 News they didn’t know about the request until Brown released her plan on Sunday.
“This is no different than the mutual aid agreements that have been happening in this region for years,” Brown told KOIN 6 News Monday. “Certainly it’s critically important that we all work collaboratively to help end the violence in Portland and we are requesting assistance from our local partners and I am hopeful that they can step up and assist.”
Gresham Police Chief Robin Sells responded with the following statement:
“The City of Gresham works closely with neighboring communities. The Governor’s announcement caught us by surprise. Staffing in the Gresham Police Department is down significantly from this time last year, so any requests for assistance would need to be evaluated in light of our staffing constraints, as well as what type of assistance is being requested. While we stand ready to assist our partners in certain emergency situations as is our standard practice, we have no plans at this time to assist with protests or crowd management in Portland.”
The following is a statement from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office:
“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 Roberts said Brown did not divulge her Unified Law Enforcement Plan with the CCSO 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.”
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has also chosen not to send its deputies to Portland. Sheriff Pat Garrett said he is committed to supporting the PPB through indirect ways “like analyzing risks associated with social media, air support, assisting with a specific criminal investigation, etc. 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.”
Garrett was referring to the following joint statement from the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association:
“As law enforcement professionals we believe public safety is the foundation for safe, healthy and thriving communities. We are committed to the wellbeing of the communities we serve and support the right to assembly and free speech enshrined in our constitution. As statewide associations, we are deeply concerned about the criminal acts at recent protest events in Portland that have put community livability and personal safety at risk. We unequivocally condemn the violence and loss of life that occurred this past weekend.
“These are incredibly challenging times in Oregon and throughout our Country. Law Enforcement has clearly heard and recognizes the need to make improvements to ensure it is meeting the needs of all communities it serves. With that said, abandoning Law Enforcement or the need for policing, is not working. It has only shown that it undermines the rule of law and puts our community at greater risk.
“Over the weekend, members of our associations were approached to assist with policing in the City of Portland. 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. 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.
“We would propose the following as steps to bring an end to the criminal acts and violence in Portland beginning with a strong statement by elected leadership at all levels that criminal acts are not legitimate protest and that those who commit crimes will be held accountable. There must be support for Law Enforcement actions, through preventative detention and prosecution, when criminal violators are arrested. Finally, there must be publicly voiced support for Law Enforcement and its efforts to protect lawful protesters and hold criminal violators accountable in a very difficult environment.
The ACLU of Portland called the joint statement “alarming.”
“The statement from the Oregon Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs is alarming,” said Jann Carson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Oregon. “The idea of “preventive detention” to incapacitate or chill future protest is absolutely inconsistent with constitutional principles of due process and free expression, which are critical safeguards of our democracy.
“The ACLU of Oregon believes Black lives matter and we condemn violence, including from the police. We call on our government officials, including members of law enforcement, to declare the same and to take actions to protect Black lives.”
In a follow-up statement from Brown, a spokesperson said the governor’s plan “is meant to allow for local flexibility in supporting each other as we all collectively deal with the difficult situation in Portland.”
“We will continue to monitor the situation in Portland and provide guidance and support to the exceptional men and women of the Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Police who during these challenging times have been there to keep the peace.”
KOIN 6 News reached out to the PPB for comment.
“I don’t believe all these details are worked out. The Governor just announced this yesterday and Command and the Mayor are still discussing,” said a PPB spokesperson.
The new strategy also calls on the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office to prosecute “serious” criminal offenses including arson and physical violence — but the DA’s office said this directive isn’t new and doesn’t change the protest policy they implemented on Aug. 11. The DA’s office also said they were notified of Brown’s plan before it was announced, writing: “We are supportive of Governor Brown’s efforts and we join her and others focused on bringing an end to the violence occurring in Portland while supporting the constitutional rights of everyone. Our office always remains committed to prosecuting criminal offenses such as arson and physical violence.”
Local FBI and U.S. attorneys will also help investigate protest-related crimes under Brown’s plan.
Nightly violence turns deadly
Protests — which have frequently devolved into clashes between police and anti-law enforcement groups — have stretched on for more than 90 days since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.
The nightly violence in Portland escalated Saturday night when one person was shot and killed near clashes between supporters of President Trump and counter-protesters at a “Trump 2020 Cruise Rally.” KOIN 6 News witnessed two men yelling and having an altercation near SW 3rd and Alder around 8:45 p.m. Someone sprayed mace and then someone pulled out a gun. KOIN 6 News heard shots fired. A wounded man was seen on the ground and the suspect took off running, according to witnesses.
Police said the victim — identified Monday as 39-year-old Aaron J. Danielson of Portland — died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
According to The Associated Press, the shooting victim was wearing a hat bearing the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group whose members have frequently clashed with protesters in Portland in the past.
In her statement about the new law enforcement plan, Brown said she will “not allow Patriot Prayer and armed white supremacists to bring more bloodshed to our streets.
“Time and again, from Charlottesville to Kenosha to Portland, we have seen the tragic outcome when armed right-wing vigilantes take matters into their own hands. Gun violence is never, ever the answer.”
Despite Brown releasing her new plan less than two days after the deadly shooting in downtown Portland, the governor said her office was “starting the conversation about this plan last week.” She added that if this current strategy doesn’t work, they’ll try something else.
The governor said she also plans to create a community forum that will include Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Black protest organizers and community leaders to work toward racial justice and police reform in the city.
“I think it’s important folks see that it’s not just about the law enforcement side, it’s not just about public safety, it also has to be about how do we move forward, how do we create, re-envision, re-imagine a community that enables all of us to thrive and that’s also key work and it’s something that we all can participate in,” said Brown.