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Mayor Ted Wheeler Will Now Have a Security Detail With Him “Virtually Any Time” He’s in Public Following Pepper-Spray Incident

The mayor began carrying pepper spray after a Jan. 6 confrontation at a Portland restaurant.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler will now have a security detail with him nearly every time he goes out in public following the Jan. 24 incident where the mayor pepper-sprayed a lawyer outside a McMenamins pub.

"The mayor has enhanced security measures, and we believe they will be effective in protecting the mayor's safety," said Jim Middaugh, a spokesman for the mayor.

The city contracts with a private security firm called G4S Secure Solutions, Middaugh added.

Wheeler has always had the personal discretion to call for the security detail, Middaugh said, as have previous Portland mayors dating back decades. Now, however, Wheeler will use the security team nearly every time he's out in public.

"Given recent events, the mayor will be using that service more frequently and virtually any time he is in a public setting," Middaugh said.

The security enhancement follows the Jan. 24 incident when Cary Cadonau, a Portland lawyer and apparent donor to political action committees supporting the reelection of Donald Trump, followed Wheeler to his car outside of a pub in Hillsdale. The two reportedly argued whether the mayor was following COVID-19 rules, and the scuffle culminated in the mayor pepper-spraying Cadonau.

It is unclear, exactly, what Wheeler's security detail will consist of. In Seattle, for example, Seattle Police Department officers are stationed outside the home of Mayor Jenny Durkan 24 hours a day.

Middaugh declined to comment on whether Wheeler will have a similar 24/7 security arrangement outside his home. Middaugh said City Hall staff were scheduled to be briefed Monday afternoon about security protocols, and that similar security enhancements will be offered to other elected officials.

"The mayor and other elected officials will have security with them when they're out in public," Middaugh said. "Precisely how that manifests will depend on circumstances."

The contractor providing the mayor's security detail has previously been a matter of some contention. (A 2019 renewal of the contract was twice disputed by protesters.) As WW previously reported, G4S Secure Solutions, which also provides security to Facebook facilities in Prineville, Ore., settled five discrimination complaints filed with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries on Nov. 20.

The city also provided additional information today about when and why the mayor started carrying pepper spray.

Middaugh says Wheeler began carrying pepper spray specifically after an activist confronted him while he was eating in an outdoor tent at Cafe Nell on Jan. 6. The mayor obtained the pepper spray from a member of his staff who had purchased the spray with their own money, Middaugh says.

"It comes at the urging of his staff," Middaugh said about the possession of pepper spray. "His use of pepper spray [on Jan. 24] was obviously the first time he felt the need to do that."