A recent deposition of a commander of the Portland Police Bureau’s now-dissolved Rapid Response Team suggests that the controversial PowerPoint presentation released by city officials last week may have been presented during training jointly taught by four Oregon law enforcement agencies: PPB, the Oregon State Police, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Salem Police Department.
On Sept. 23, attorneys representing Don’t Shoot Portland in a federal court case against the city deposed Lt. Franz Schoening, who served as RRT commander during Portland protests in the summer of 2020.
In an excerpt of the deposition transcript, reviewed by WW, Schoening said that, to become an RRT member, officers attend the “state of Oregon Basic RRT MRT training.” (MRT stands for Mobile Response Team.)
“That’s a training delivered jointly by the Oregon State Police, Portland Police Bureau instructors, Salem Police Department instructors and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office instructors,” Schoening added.
Schoening said the training is usually 30 hours, that it is limited to crowd management and crowd control, and that it typically occurs at Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Ore.
According to the deposition transcript, Jesse Merrithew, an attorney for Don’t Shoot Portland, asked Schoening when the presentation was given, and to whom.
“This appears to be part of the material provided at the state basic RRT MRT Course,” Schoening responded, referring to the same Camp Rilea training taught by four agencies.
Merrithew then asked about the final slide in the PowerPoint presentation, which contained a meme that appears to glorify police violence against leftist protesters. Schoening called the final presentation slide “unacceptable.”
Below is an excerpt of the exchange between the two as they discuss the PowerPoint presentation:
Merrithew: “This looks to be a part of the effort that you’re describing in order to help members understand these theories of crowd behavior; is that accurate?”
Schoening: “Part of it, yes.”
Merrithew: “When and to whom was this presentation given?”
Schoening: “This appears to be part of the material provided at the state basic RRT MRT Course.”
Merrithew: “Okay. I want to ask you about the very last slide in this presentation.”
Merrithew: “Could you explain how that slide is consistent with the theories of crowd management that the rest of the presentation was meant to address?”
Schoening: “It is inconsistent and it’s unacceptable.”
Merrithew: “Okay. Do you—was it a—do you know how this slide is—came to be in this presentation?”
Schoening: “I do not.”
Merrithew: “Would you agree that this slide undermines a lot of what you just described the city trying to teach members about crowd dynamics and in-crowd out-crowd and building rapport in order to avoid the use of force?”
Schoening: “Yes, absolutely.”
The revelations from the deposition mark the latest development in a saga that began last week, garnering national media attention as well as condemnation from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The additional law enforcement agencies’ potential involvement or access to the training presentation is significant in part because Oregon State Police and Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies assisted PPB during several protests in the summer of 2020.
OSP, MCSO and SPD could not be reached immediately for comment.
On Tuesday evening, City Attorney Robert Taylor issued further comment regarding the city’s decision to withhold information about the PowerPoint presentation until Jan. 14—the day the plaintiff’s attorneys planned to file a motion in federal court that contained some of the slides.
“The city planned to provide the training materials to the DOJ in response to the annual document request from the DOJ issued each year and which is due this year from the city on January 31, 2022,” Taylor said. “The training presentation was evidence in an ongoing Internal Affairs investigation, and before disclosing the information, the city hoped to complete the necessary fact-gathering to provide additional information about the presentation and the slide, including its origin and whether it was presented during training. We have received the DOJ’s letter, and we plan to fully respond to the DOJ’s three requests to address their concerns.”