Salem PD ‘integrating SWAT teams’ in protest preparation

Protests

OSP lead agency on Capitol grounds, but Salem PD 'set up, ready to go'

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — As barricades go up around the Oregon State Capitol, Salem police are making fortifications of their own. Although the Oregon State Police will be the lead law enforcement agency on the Capitol grounds for any and all expected protests during the week of Joe Biden’s inauguration, Salem PD is ready to back them up as needed.

That’s what Lt. Treven Upkes told KOIN 6 News on Friday night.

“We are preparing in anticipation for events taking place all the way through Thursday,” Upkes said. “We’ve increased staffing levels in both patrol and in our special teams. Our incident command post has been set up and ready to go for all those days.”

Barricades outside the Oregon State Capitol in Salem in preparation for expected protests, January 15, 2021 (KOIN)

Police believe the threats in Oregon extend through at least Thursday, when lawmakers will return to the Capitol. So, they’ve beefed up staffing beyond Inauguration Day.

“We are going to take the action necessary. We are not going to wait until it’s under someone else’s jurisdiction,” he said.

Salem PD recently helped OSP in a similar situation on December 21, the day right-wing protesters got into the Capitol.

(Mike Nearman surveillance video)

“Initially we were staged outside of the Capitol with a small contingency and as the event unfolded, we participated in assisting OSP on the outside of the Capitol,” Upkes said. “Then once we were able to secure the Capitol exterior, then our officers went inside to assist Oregon State Police.”

With the threat of more heavily armed protesters showing up, police have planned for that, as well.

“With that, our tactics have had to change as well. So we are integrating some of our SWAT teams into what we would normally have as crowd control situations.”

FILE – In this Dec. 21, 2020, file photo, pro-Trump and anti-mask demonstrators hold a rally outside the Oregon State Capitol as legislators meet for an emergency session in Salem, Ore. During the protest Republican lawmaker, Rep. Mike Nearman, physically opened the Capitol’s door — letting protesters, who clashed with police, gain access to the building. There have been calls for Nearman to resign ahead of the upcoming 2021 Legislative session that begins Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Selsky, File)

They also ask Salem residents to keep an eye out for anything suspicious in the coming days. Upkes said dispatchers know to take the information and pass it along. Salem residents are also asked to avoid the streets around the Capitol for the next week or so.

“If you are seeing something, people coming through your neighborood, strange cars parked in your neighborhood, large groups of people gathering, then feel free to give our non-emergency number (503.588.6123) a call,” he said.

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