How WW Obtained Joey Gibson’s Texts With A Portland Police Lieutenant

The Portland Police Bureau took three months to find the texts and charged more than $262 for them.

Right-wing protesters gather near Pioneer Courthouse Square on Oct. 13, 2018. (Sam Gehrke)

Eleven hours after WW first reported hundreds of text messages between a police lieutenant and Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, the Portland Police Bureau released the records for anyone to examine online.

The time it took WW to obtain them was much longer.

WW filed a records request asking for the texts on Nov. 12, 2018, following several violent demonstrations organized by Patriot Prayer in 2018.

PPB warned that because of a backlog in public records requests, WW should expect a delay of "up to six weeks" before receiving responsive records. The bureau took twice that time to provide responsive records.

On November 27, police records supervisor Tammi Weiss sent WW a cost estimate predicting that the records would cost $131.74 to produce. WW asked for a public interest fee waiver, but the bureau charged the newspaper anyway without explaining why it did not grant the waiver.

"This estimate is 50 percent of the entire fees. We have another similar request so in order to save both requesters time and expense, I have split the fees between the requesters," Weiss wrote in her estimate.

PPB also charged the Portland Mercury $131 for the same texts and emails.

WW paid the required 50 percent deposit—$65—on Nov. 27.

After following up via phone, PPB told WW the request had been assigned to a records division employee on Feb. 4. The bureau sent an invoice for the remaining $65, which WW paid on Feb. 5. Weiss said in an email the same day that the records would be available "today or tomorrow."

On Feb. 8, WW followed up with the Bureau again. Three days later, PPB finally provided records—but only included texts sent by Lt. Jeff Niiya. WW asked the bureau to provide Gibson's texts as well.

PPB said it had conducted the search for responsive records twice and had not turned up Gibson's texts either time. After the person who handles records requests for the rest of the city stepped in to help PPB search for the texts, the bureau finally provided all of the responsive texts on Feb. 14, a full 12 weeks after the initial public records request.

WW has requested additional texts between Niiya and other Patriot Prayer members, Proud Boys, antifascist organizers and other activists in Portland.

PPB has not yet responded to that records request.

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