Military and Police

De-Policing Oregon: Portland’s Anti-Police Arrogance Puts Residents and Cops in Jeopardy

Portland’s infamous anti-police attitude, led by Mayor Ted Wheeler, is bearing more unintended fruit—rotten fruit. KPTV Fox 12 is reporting that “the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) is considering restricting its cooperation with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB).”

The lawyer for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, another agency concerned with Portland’s anti-cop stance, cited the city government’s “anti-police attitude.” This attitude has forced him to recommend changes to the county’s mutual aid agreement with the PPB.

It’s customary for adjoining public safety agencies to contract mutual aid agreements. This allows for automatic dispatching of officers from one jurisdiction to another. This improves public and officer safety.

But, wait. What happens if cops from other agencies must assume personal financial risk if they get into a use-of-force situation while assisting Portland cops, at Portland’s request? Fox 12 obtained an email written by Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts. In the email, he explains that he will not put his deputies “at unnecessary personal risk” while they’re acting as law enforcement officers in another jurisdiction. Of course, he’s not going to put his deputies in that untenable position. What true leader would?

The sheriff explained that Portland’s political leaders don’t want to indemnify mutual aid personnel while they’re working within the city limits—even when the PPB requested them. So, if a deputy has to use force and the suspect files a lawsuit, Portland will not back the officer. That means a court could hold the deputy financially liable—even when he or she has acted in good faith.

Sheriff Roberts requested city leaders in Portland indemnify or agree to pay legal expenses of deputies if they are sued after Portland police requests their assistance. Roberts says Portland city leaders denied his request. Since the rabidly anti-cop Mayor Ted Wheeler runs the city, this should surprise no one. Mayor Wheeler’s anti-police actions have been atrocious.

In this case, the city seems to be saying they don’t want to protect law enforcment officers they haven’t trained. The Mayor’s Office says, “Portland would be accepting legal liability for the actions of the other agency’s officers that the Portland Police Bureau did not train or supervise.”

All departments accept risks when they enter into mutual aid agreements. It’s kind of the point, isn’t it? Portland may risk a suspect might sue a deputy. But isn’t that deputy assuming a risk as well? He or she could be injured or killed while on a call in Portland, right?

And there’s this: According to the Oregon Public Safety Academy, they “provide basic and in-service police training for all law enforcement agencies in Oregon.” Police training is stratified; everyone is trained universally. So Portland’s rebuttal holds zero weight.

As mentioned above, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is also reviewing the terms of their mutual aid with Portland. So is the Vancouver Police Department, bringing another state into the mix. Vancouver, Washington’s fourth largest city, with a population of 160,000, sits across the state line on the north side of the Columbia River from Portland.

Daryl Turner, President of the Portland Police Association acknowledges the “deteriorating relationships between Portland’s city leaders and neighboring law enforcement agencies.” He also understands “They’re looking out for their deputies.”

The anti-cop attitude and actions sewn by Portland city leaders have residents and cops harvesting real-world consequences. Because of the Wheeler administration’s caustic view of law enforcement, if no agreement is reached, cops (such as those from the CCSO) would no longer assist the PPB “on most cases, including crowd control during protests and possibly when CERT or SWAT teams are requested.” Protests? In Portland?

As an officer who was assigned to a special squad during the 1999 WTO riots in Seattle, I can tell you how comforting mutual aid is when you need it. It’s comforting to see all the different patches on various uniforms: Washington State Patrol, King, Pierce, and Snohomish County sheriff’s offices, Tacoma P.D., Bellevue P.D., Everett P.D., and too many other smaller agencies to mention. These mutual aid agreements enhance public safety. They also strengthen the bonds and trust between cops from various law enforcement agencies. But they only work if radical leftist city leaders can stow the cop-hating and do the right thingI know…that’s a big ask in Portland these days.

The damage Portland’s city leaders are doing not only to public safety but also to the bond and trust between law enforcement agencies is the true crime. Still, we have to remember these anti-police actions and attitudes are coming from a Mayor Wheeler administration. From a mayor who refused to allow Portland cops to respond to aid ICE agents who’d called for assistance with…wait for it…protesters.

Incidentally, Mayor Wheeler serves as Portland’s police commissioner.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Steve Pomper

Steve Pomper is an OpsLens contributor, a retired Seattle police officer, and the author of four non-fiction books, including De-Policing America: A Street Cop’s View of the Anti-Police State. You can read a review of this new book in Front Page Magazine and listen to an interview with Steve on the Joe Pags Show. Steve was a field-training officer, on the East Precinct Community Police Team, and served his entire career on the streets. He has a BA in English Language and Literature. He enjoys spending time with his kids and grand-kids. He loves to ride his Harley, hike, and cycle with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. You can find out more about Steve and send him comments and questions at www.stevepomper.com.

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