Portland, feds in ‘tug-of-war’ over deputized officers

Protests

Mayor Ted Wheeler says he's considering taking the issue to the Supreme Court

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The feud over the deputization of some Portland police officers continues between city and federal authorities and Mayor Ted Wheeler says he’s considering challenging the issue before the nation’s highest court. 

Last week, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown put the Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office into a Joint Incident Command overseeing the Proud Boys rally at Delta Park and announced counterprotests. As part of that effort, 56 local Portland officers were federally deputized.

Wheeler said he believed the officers were only deputized for the length of time the Joint Incident Command was in place. Brown rescinded that the day after the rallies ended with few skirmishes. The mayor asked the US Marshals to remove the deputization of the PPB officers.

The U.S. Marshals Service announced Wednesday it will not cancel the cross-deputation of local and state law enforcement officers in Oregon, who will remain deputized through the end of 2020.

During a Portland mayoral debate Thursday night, Mayor Wheeler said he’s willing to take the issue to the Supreme Court.

Tung Yin, a law professor at Lewis and Clark College, describes the situation as a “strange power tug-of-war.”

“I would think the answer is fairly straight forward. The city has said ‘we don’t want our people involved in this, please de-deputize them’ which to me — and I think I’ve seen a copy of the message that the city has put out — they’ve said we are withdrawing our consent for our officers,” he said. “My understanding of this is that should be enough to end the federal deputization because the Supreme Court case law is pretty clear that the federal government can’t just commandeer local authorities. They actually need consent in this sense.”

Meanwhile, Commissioner Hardesty has said she “will not stand for deputized officers on our streets” and wants Mayor Ted Wheeler and PPB Chief Chuck Lovell to pull those officers immediately.

In a 5-tweet thread Thursday afternoon, Hardesty said “under no conditions should these deputized officers be out on Portland’s streets or responding to protests.”

She said, “This is a clear attempt by the federal government to take over our local police force, circumvent DA Schmidt’s protest arrest policy, and threaten everyone’s right to free speech and assembly. I do not take any of this lightly.”

Portland police say the deputization does not change how the bureau operates.

KOIN 6 News reached out to the offices of the U.S. Attorney for Oregon and U.S. Marshals Service but both declined to comment.

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