U.S. Attorney: Portland police to remain federal deputies
Despite local officials' wishes, some officers with the Portland Police Bureau will remain federally-deputized members of the long arm of the law.
Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, and Russ Burger, U.S. Marshal for the District of Oregon, denied Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's request to end the deputation in a statement released Wednesday, Sept. 30.
"Portlanders, and Oregonians in general, are sick of the boarded-up and dangerous conditions prevalent in downtown Portland due to a lack of leadership," the officials said. "The federal deputization supports front line law enforcement officers and their families in a way that they have not seen from City Hall."
Only 56 Portland officers and 22 Multnomah County deputies will remain deputized. For context, the Portland Police Bureau currently has more than 850 sworn officers. Oregon State Police troopers were deputized earlier this summer.
The local officers were deputized at the request of Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton after Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency and created a unified command of state, city and county officers to keep the peace during a gathering of the right-wing Proud Boys at Delta Park on Sept. 26.
The rally ended without serious violence — but the deputizations will last one full calendar year, according to a federal rulebook cited by The Oregonian.
The feds' denial is the latest riposte since Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told a crowd at a community meeting that he had "withdrawn the city's consent" for deputization on Sept. 29.
"In conversations with the state police and other affiliated law enforcement agencies that were involved in this weekend's activities, everyone was under the assumption — or at least the state police or leadership at PPB was under the assumption — the deputization was only for the duration of the declared emergency as declared by the governor," Wheeler said, according to Pamplin Media Group partner KOIN 6 News.
Anyone who assaults a deputized officer could wind up in federal court, where sentences are often much stiffer than in circuit court. Assault on a deputized officer could be punished with up to eight years in federal prison, according to OPB.
Williams and Burger said the crackdown was necessary after months of disorder.
"Officers have been repeatedly assaulted with bottles, bats, sledgehammers, lasers, rocks and other weapons of convenience," they said. "These violent, senseless and criminal acts have no bearing on social justice. They only serve to exacerbate lawlessness in this city."
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