Oregon State Police Leave Portland, Trying to Fault the New Reform-Minded District Attorney for Their Departure

The governor’s and mayor’s offices say the plan was always for state troopers to stay just two weeks.

Protesters grab fences outside the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse on July 18. (Alex Wittwer)

Last month, Gov. Kate Brown negotiated a deal for federal law enforcement to leave Portland and Oregon State Police to take over responsibility for policing federal property downtown.

But today, the Oregon state troopers departed, and a spokesman for the law enforcement agency blamed the reform-minded Multnomah County district attorney who took office last week.

"At this time we are inclined to move those resources back to counties where prosecution of criminal conduct is still a priority," OSP Capt. Timothy Fox told Oregon Public Broadcasting and KOIN, among others.

That's a reference to the fact that the new DA, Mike Schmidt, announced Aug. 11 he would preemptively dismiss criminal cases against protesters charged with misdemeanors and rioting, a felony.

Fox's statement appeared designed to draw attention to the DA's charging policy—and potentially amplify public alarm over it.

But it also raised questions about who had made the decision to withdraw police.

Gov. Brown's office told WW it believed Fox's statement was "not accurate" and that OSP had been expected to leave after two weeks. Mayor Ted Wheeler's office confirmed that such a timeline was its understanding as well.

When contacted about OSP's departure, Fox appeared to correct the record, telling WW exactly that: "This decision was based on the fact that our two-week commitment ended last night," Fox emailed. "Troopers are returning to the communities that they are assigned to serve and protect."

(He did not respond when asked to explain the discrepancy in his earlier statements to the other news outlets when WW asked about it.)

The governor later tweeted that the OSP tour in Portland had always been for two weeks.

Her office did not respond when asked for the governor's reaction to protesters' charges being dropped. But it's clear Schmidt will face ongoing opposition from law enforcement to the idea that he's going soft on lawbreaking.

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