The Portland Police Bureau tried and failed to get assistance from other law enforcement agencies in controlling the crowds at Saturday's planned Proud Boy rally and leftist counterprotest.
In a Sept. 22 email to Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, the Multnomah County sheriff and the Oregon State Police superintendent cited the decision by Mayor Ted Wheeler to ban all use of tear gas for crowd control as the reason they won't help at the protests.
"OSP is reluctant to offer troopers to support PPB's crowd control elements," wrote Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton. "If the decision amend the CS gas prohibition is revisited, we are willing to discuss resource allocation."
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese gave the same reason.
"We are concerned that the prohibition on the use of CS gas leaves PPB with no sound tactical options to quickly disperse a large crowd engaged in dangerous acts of violence," emailed Reese. "If officers have to use high levels of physical force to protect the safety of the participants, it may lead to substantial injuries and may not be effective in achieving the desired outcome."
That response from the state police and the sheriff raises questions about how difficult it will be to maintain safety as a right-wing group rallies in Portland.
The state police said they are willing to provide other assistance, including "interdicting the criminal element before they arrived at the event(s) and maintain a mobile response for anticipated flash points" as well as rescuing officers should that be necessary.
The sheriff's office says it can help process arrests. A spokesman confirmed that offer on Wednesday. "We have offered to provide mutual aid by having a Mobile Booking Team assist in processing any arrestees and assisting with patrol duties in East Portland so as to free up additional Portland police officers," said Chris Liedle.
But the email is a high-profile rebuke to Wheeler and other Portland elected officials who have attempted to restrain the use of force by police officers against protesters.
The emails appear below:
From: Hampton, Travis L
Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2020 9:08 AM
To: Davis, Chris
Cc: Lovell, Charles [among others]
Subject: RE: Mutual Aid Request for September 26
Good morning, Deputy Chief Davis
As you know, OSP's resources are extremely taxed as we manage community needs throughout Oregon- in response to the devastating wildfires. OSP and National Guard personnel are in high demand in rural Oregon, as we manage road closures and patrol for criminal activity in evacuated locations. This is on top of our normal call load and policing duties.
Even with these demands, OSP recognizes the mutual aid need for the City of Portland and our long standing colleagues at the Portland Police Bureau. OSP is willing to make a resource investment, although we have some serious reservations on your request relating to crowd control.
I understand PPB is unable to use CS gas in performance of their duties and OSP will not operate under these circumstances. I recognize this is not a decision made by PPB, but you are duty bound to meet these expectations, including your incident commanders that may exercise control of my personnel. You ask for OSP crowd control units to police an element that is well known to have violent interactions- including the carrying, display and use of firearms. As you know, CS gas mitigates the need for officers to utilize deadly physical force in these circumstances, particularly in large open spaces like the planned event location at Delta Park. By removing this tool from officers, this forces us (you) to insert physical bodies in between potentially violent and hostile crowds- increasing the risk of serious physical injury or death of officers and community members. This also significantly increases the need for additional law enforcement personnel. The conflict is highly predictable.
Additionally, due to circumstances beyond the control of PPB, your officers assigned to crowd control duties are unable to utilize the OSP body worn cameras the Governor had previously offered. Independent of the obvious value of evidence preservation and the prosecution aid, these cameras supply an element of officer accountability. OSP is receiving broad discovery requests for hundreds of body camera footage hours, to support PPB arrests- if our cameras may have happened to capture evidence of the conduct. This is extremely resource intensive for OSP, having to review continuous body camera footage from over 100 troopers that span many months of mutual aid.
For the above reasons, OSP is reluctant to offer troopers to support PPB's crowd control elements. If the decision amend the CS gas prohibition is revisited, we are willing to discuss resource allocation. OSP has used CS gas judiciously, although it is a tool we must have available for community safety, officer safety and best policing practices.
OSP will offer uniform patrol coverage to aid PPB in the event. OSP troopers specialize in criminal apprehension through patrol efforts, so this is a natural function for us to assume- in recognition of your request. These patrols, a number to be determined, would aid PPB is interdicting the criminal element before they arrived at the event(s) and maintain a mobile response for anticipated flash points. We will also make available, if you request, specialized vehicles and armor to aid in officer rescue and the transport of personnel.
I will be in the command post the day of the event to support the Bureau and OSP operations, and of course welcome the dialogue as you finalize the operational planning. Nothing in this response is a reflection of PPB command staff, whom I have the highest respect and admiration.
From: REESE Mike W
Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2020 11:04 AM
To: Davis, Chris
Cc: Lovell, Charles [among others]
Subject: Mutual Aid Request
Deputy Chief Davis,
I received your request for our Rapid Response Team and Mobile Booking Team for the event on September 26th. After listening to the briefing yesterday (where the crowd size is estimated at 1000-3000), it's clear the event has the potential to turn violent. The two groups organizing for September 26th have a history of violent interactions, and the shooting death at a protest in Portland heightens all of our concerns. I'm also aware of the recent use of three Molotov cocktails thrown at police officers a few weeks ago. This was a dangerous escalation by agitators in the crowd and put everyone's safety at risk. Additionally, the number of firearms taken from arrestees or visibly present at demonstrations has created an added element of risk to managing the protests.
After careful consideration of the potential life safety concerns at the event planned for September 26th, we are concerned that the prohibition on the use of CS gas leaves PPB with no sound tactical options to quickly disperse a large crowd engaged in dangerous acts of violence. If officers have to use high levels of physical force to protect the safety of the participants, it may lead to substantial injuries and may not be effective in achieving the desired outcome.
MCSO's desire at all free speech events is to facilitate a peaceful assembly, and to assist in maintaining the safety of all participants without using any force. If any participants engage in criminal behavior, our deputies are trained to respond proportionally to stop criminal acts and restore the safety of the community. Unfortunately, given the directions your team is working under, our Rapid Response Team is not available. We can provide mutual aid by having a Mobile Booking Team assist in processing any arrestees and assisting with patrol duties in East Portland so as to free up additional Portland police officers.
Sheriff Mike Reese