Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw responded tonight to allegations that her officers refused to respond to 911 calls from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents trapped by a protest blockade.
Outlaw says she told her officers "to respond to all 911 calls around the Occupy ICE protest." But she says that the Police Bureau kept its usual priorities for responding to calls—and deemed "life and safety" calls more urgent.
The strong implication from Outlaw's statement: Police decided ICE's calls weren't worth taking seriously.
Outlaw's statement is the latest response showing city officials grappling with the incendiary allegation that police didn't aid ICE agents in a city where the federal agency is unpopular.
WW first reported Monday that the union representing ICE agents sent a cease-and-desist letter to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, demanding that he end a policy of not responding to calls for help from ICE agents. Wheeler replied that no such policy exists.
The records so far show a pattern: ICE employees and contractors called for assistance when they couldn't leave their building or get their trucks, and police told them that they should call back if somebody was about to get hurt.
The same week most of the calls occurred, protesters of federal immigration policy had surrounded the ICE building in Southwest Portland and the mayor told federal immigration agents not to count on city police for help.
Here's the full text of Outlaw's statement tonight:
The Portland Police Bureau is, and will always be, committed to providing the highest level of public safety response to all community members.
Members of the PPB Operations Branch were directed by me to respond to all 911 calls around the Occupy ICE protest. Sergeants were directed to be the primary responder for an initial assessment of these calls (when feasible) to identify resources needed, given the geographic complexities of the location and the challenge of getting additional officers to the scene in a timely manner. Some responses were handled by phone or off-site and away from the protest.
Life and safety calls were of the utmost priority during this protest, as they were (and continue to be) anywhere else in the city. We also informed the Federal Protective Service that we would respond to their emergency calls for service if their safety was at risk.
During the 6-week protest, PPB responded to 41 calls for service and officers self-dispatched themselves to 18 calls. There were 16 police reports written regarding the Occupy ICE Camp and no arrests were made. There were no significant injuries to anyone around this camp. The cleanup was completed in a peaceful and effective manner. We will continue to review relative reports and calls for service to identify any actions that did not meet the expectations outlined.
Officers and their supervisors use discretion every day to ensure that we use our resources in the most effective and appropriate manner, and they did so during this protest. I am proud of the professional response to calls for service during an already tense situation, as well as the thoughtfulness that went into using our resources given our current staffing levels, while also engaging with the many property owners and businesses involved.