PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The U.S. Marshal announced it will not cancel the cross-deputation of local and state law enforcement officers in Oregon.
The move came just hours after Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler asked to end the federal deputation of dozens of police officers in response to the ongoing protests in the city.
“Law enforcement and law-abiding citizens of Portland have endured months of nightly criminal violence and destruction,” both U.S. Marshal of Oregon and U.S. Attorney of Oregon Billy J. Williams said in a joint statement Wednesday. “Officers have been repeatedly assaulted with bottles, bats, sledgehammers, lasers, rocks, and other weapons of convenience. In addition, the public has seen repeated efforts by criminals to burn down public buildings.”
Deputizing the Portland officers would give federal prosecutors the option to charge anyone arrested by those officers with federal crimes, which often come with more severe penalties than the state crimes for which local police usually make arrests.
It also could allow law enforcement a way around Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s decision not to file state charges against hundreds of protesters who were arrested for lower-level and non-violent offenses, a policy that has angered some in the law enforcement community.
“Portlanders, and Oregonians in general are sick of the boarded-up and dangerous conditions prevalent in downtown Portland due to a lack of leadership,” read the statement. “We call upon citizens of this city and state to denounce violence, demand accountability, and work together to end the violence.”
On Tuesday, Wheeler announced he would be withdrawing consent for the deputization of some of the city’s police officers. He said he and his office was under the impression the deputization was only for the duration of the emergency declared last week ahead of Saturday’s Proud Boys rally. Oregon Governor Kate Brown appointed the heads of the Oregon State Police and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office as joint incident commanders of protests in a 48-hour period on Friday.
“A key feature of the designation is that anyone who assaults a federally deputized official could be subject to federal charges,” Wheeler said in a statement said. “Fortunately, I am confident the Multnomah County district attorney will continue to prosecute anyone who assaults or otherwise harms police officers or others.”