Several local law enforcement agencies said they will deny Gov Kate Brown’s request to have outside agencies staff ongoing protests in Portland, citing hostility and lack of public support for law enforcement.
The sheriffs of both Clackamas and Washington counties released written statements on Monday afternoon saying they would not be sending deputies to Portland.
The statements came less than 24 hours after Brown released a statement saying she would authorize more police at protests and more arrests in the wake of a shooting on Saturday that left one dead. In her statement, Brown mentioned both Clackamas and Washington county sheriffs’ offices by name, as well as the Gresham Police Department.
Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts on Monday said he was never contacted about Brown’s plan to mobilize local law enforcement agencies in Portland protests, and said he has no plans to send his staff to nightly demonstrations.
“Had Governor Brown discussed her plan with my office, I would have told her it’s about changing policy, not adding resources,” he said. “Increasing law enforcement resources in Portland will not solve the nightly violence and now, murder.”
Roberts said his staff would assist Oregon State Police with service calls that they normally handle in Clackamas County, but might not be able to while state police troopers are staffing Portland protests.
Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett also released a statement on Monday, saying he would support Portland police in “indirect ways, like analyzing risks associated with social media, air support, assisting with a specific criminal investigation, etc.”
But he, too, said he would not be sending deputies to staff protests.
“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,” he said.
Both Washington and Clackamas counties previously pulled out of a a mutual aid pact with Portland police, citing similar concerns. The decision came after a million-dollar judgment against Washington County and Hillsboro awarded after their officers wounded a man while helping Portland police with a search warrant.
Roberts on Monday criticized the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office for not prosecuting people who have been “arrested night after night” and are “endangering the lives of law enforcement.” Court and jail records show that few people have been arrested multiple times at protests and that the majority of arrests have been for non-violent crimes.
District Attorney Mike Schmidt has previously said his office will decline to prosecute many arrests related to the protests, but that it would continue to charge those accused of serious and deliberate property damage, as well as use or threat of force.
In her plan, Brown said she would call on several local agencies to assist Portland Police Bureau with protests. She mentioned the Clackamas and Washington County sheriff’s offices by name, as well as Gresham Police Department.
The Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association released a joint statement, saying that members of several police agencies were asked to assist with policing the Portland protests, but that they would not be sending staff.
The two agencies called for increased — and vocal — community support for law enforcement, and for elected leaders to denounce criminal acts at protests.
Charles Boyle, a spokesperson for the Governor’s office, said Brown’s plan was meant to allow for “local flexibility.”
“It is up to each county to determine the personnel and resources they have available to volunteer for this effort,” Boyle said.
“As she’s clearly stated, the Governor believes that individuals should be held accountable for their actions, and they should be charged and booked if they have committed serious criminal offenses. That’s why she’s been working today with the Multnomah County District Attorney, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Presiding Judge of Multnomah County to ensure this happens,” Boyle said.