A second county sheriff has ordered deputies to stop responding to 9-1-1 calls in Portland, except in extreme emergencies.
In a new letter to employees, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts says his agency will "pull back all staff responding to calls for services" due to risky conditions.
"Our work is dangerous enough without adding unnecessary risk when responding to calls for services in the City of Portland," Roberts wrote April 26, adding a caveat. "We will always respond to help any officer from any agency in immediate need of assistance."
KPTV first reported the Feb. 14 withdrawal of the Washington County Sheriff's Office from a similar mutual aid pact made with the Rose City. WCSO officers will now avoid Portland unless there's a direct tie to their ongoing investigations.
The decisions may have more to do with fears of legal liability — and anti-law enforcement sentiments at Portland City Hall — than life on the streets.
Roberts pointed to statements by the Portland Police Bureau union president, Daryl Turner, who claims that a "hostile" environment created by residents and politicians has exacerbated the recent wave of police retirements and lackluster recruitment numbers.
Washington County Sheriff Patrick Garrett told KPTV he's troubled the Multnomah County District Attorney automatically convenes a Grand Jury after a police shooting. (A spokesman for the D.A. says their process is discretionary.)
Garrett has additional concerns that Portland won't pay the legal fees for responding officers who may have violated a person's civil rights, potentially shifting the cost back to WSCO or the deputies themselves.
Clackamas County Sheriff Roberts also alluded to "professional risk" in his letter. He praised Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw's leadership in a "very difficult" environment.
Nothing will change for Clackamas officers assigned to the Electronic Home Detention Program, Parole and Probation, the United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force or the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force. Requests for SWAT assistance or crisis negotiators by Portland will be evaluated on a "case-by-case basis," Roberts said.
CCSO will continue to assign one sergeant and six deputies to the transit beat, but a new agreement will be hammered out with TriMet. Washington and Clackamas County officers are not expected to assist crowd control efforts during Portland's unruly summer protest season.
"As Sheriff, your safety and the safety of Clackamas County residents remain my top priorities," Roberts wrote. "I don't make these decisions lightly."
This article has been updated.
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