PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — While the focus has been on the federal officers withdrawing from Portland and the Oregon State Police stepping up to patrol the Hatfield Federal Courthouse, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office is also integrally involved in the efforts to de-escalate the ongoing protests.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said he completely supports Gov. Kate Brown’s deal with Vice President Mike Pence.
“I think it was a great move to de-escalate and reduce tensions in our community and again I want to thank the governor and (OSP) Superintendent Hampton for having the courage to step into a volatile situation and put boots on the ground and help us resolve it peacefully,” Reese told KOIN 6 News.
Reese said the deputies will primarily be focused on protecting the Justice Center while supporting “the right of people to peacefully gather outside the Justice Center and keep it safe event.”
He noted there are adults in custody in the Justice Center along with staff that provides rehabilitative services, record technicians and courtrooms.
“It’s not just a central precinct,” he said. “It’s a small city.”
The people inside the Justice Center have been “impacted by smoke from fires, commercial fireworks shot at the building, the tear gas, the loud noise that happens. And it’s been deeply troubling to the staff and the adults in custody.”
Since July 21, they’ve been using recirculated air and filtration systems to keep the Justice Center air as fresh as possible, he said.
The sheriff said there was a definite “change in tone” Thursday night, where organizers kept the demonstrators in check.
“We were able to maintain the safety of the event. It ended as we all hope, with people going home and being safe. There was no violence and no need for police interaction,” he told KOIN 6 News.
The sheriff’s office collaborates with both PPB and OSP, he said, adding he’s very proud of the deputies.
“They have the challenging job of keeping the peace which is sometimes in really difficult circumstances and they react with professionalism and restraint in those situations,” Reese said. “I am just very proud of the work they’ve done.”
Sheriff Reese said they have high hopes for this collaborative effort.
“We are deeply concerned about racial inequities in our criminal justice system and want to work with community members to find solutions to systemic issues that are really challenging. We’ve marched in Black Lives Matter marches in support of that call for racial equity in our community,” he said.
“My hope moving forward is that people are able to peacefully share their message about the rightful call for justice and racial equity in our society.”