Portland – Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts has informed his deputies and staff that they will no longer be responding to calls for service within the city of Portland due to the “unnecessary personal and professional risk” they encounter in the city.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was unable to convince Sheriff Roberts to postpone the decision until after the planned ‘May Day’ protests, which will take place tomorrow, May 1st.
Wheeler expressed particular concern in an interview with KATU. “My own belief on this is pulling out a few days before sends a signal that people who might come to those demonstrations with the intention of doing harm, potentially vandalism, it sends a signal that the Portland Police Bureau is going to be under-resourced. I was hoping he could hold off until after the May Day demonstrations but I was unable to persuade him to do that,” Wheeler said.
However, Sheriff Roberts points to the anti-police sentiment coming directly from city hall and being reverberated by the citizens as one of his main reasons for withdrawing the coverage by his deputies.
In a letter to employees, Roberts even pointed to a statement from the Portland Police Association that highlighted some of the reasons the Portland Police Bureau can’t recruit or retain officers – because they are constantly vilified for political purposes.
The full letter from Sheriff Roberts to his staff is below:
Sheriff’s Office Change in Services within the City of Portland
To all Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office employees: I want to give you an important update on changes to services we provide in the City of Portland.
As you know, our command staff and executive team have been actively assessing the risk of your work within the City of Portland.
Recently, Undersheriff Brandenburg met with many of our deputies assigned to answering routine calls for service in the City of Portland to listen to their concerns related to safety. I’ve also had conversations with other city, state and federal law enforcement leaders, including Portland Police Chief Outlaw. Lastly, I’ve taken into account the Portland Police Association’s concerns outlined in their April 8 statement, which you can read here.
As I said in my earlier email on this topic, I will not place you at unnecessary personal and professional risk.
As a result of these and other assessments, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office will pull back all staff responding to calls for services within the City of Portland in the coming weeks. Those actions are as follows:
We are working with TriMet to develop a new Intergovernmental Agreement that will reassign deputies to meet the public safety needs of citizens accessing TriMet within Clackamas County. We intend to continue assigning one sergeant and six deputies to provide timely responses for law enforcement services and maintain passenger safety.
With respect to deployment of special teams, we will evaluate requests for assistance on a case-by-case basis. This applies to SWAT, the Crisis Negotiations Team (CNT), and the Rapid Response Team (RRT/CERT).
We will continue our participation on the United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
No changes will be made to operations involving Corrections staff who work the Electronic Home Detention Program, Parole and Probation staff who supervise clients in the City of Portland, and the Metropolitan Explosive Disposal Unit (MEDU). All will continue with their regular duties.
I don’t make these decisions lightly. I appreciate and commend the difficult work Portland Police officers do every day, and I also commend Portland Police Chief Outlaw for her leadership in a very difficult environment. I admire her commitment to improving public safety and community relations.
As Sheriff, your safety and the safety of Clackamas County residents remain my top priorities. Our work is dangerous enough without adding unnecessary risk when responding to calls for services in the City of Portland.
I also want to make this clear: We will always respond to help any officer from any agency in immediate need of assistance.
Take care of each other and be safe.
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