Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office will take over command of the police response in Portland during the election, with the Oregon National Guard placed on standby, the governor announced Monday.

The unified command, similar to the public safety response during September’s Proud Boys rally in Portland, will take effect at 5 p.m. Monday and run through Wednesday at 5 p.m., but the governor will have the authority to extend it if needed or rescind it earlier, Gov. Kate Brown said.

The maneuver, with Portland police reporting to the unified command, allows state police and sheriff’s deputies to bypass Mayor Ted Wheeler’s directive banning Portland police from using tear gas during protests. It also allows state police to coordinate directly with federal law enforcement on any crowd control measures.

It will significantly enhance the number of officers available in the city to respond to any election-related violence that may occur.

Brown said the plan is intended to keep the peace, protect free speech and prevent violence and intimidation on Election Day and in the days that follow in Portland. She said she issued the order with the support of Portland’s elected officials.

The Oregon National Guard’s members who are trained in crowd control will be on standby if needed to assist the law enforcement officers, according to the governor’s office.

Last week, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell announced that the Police Bureau canceled all officers’ days off for Election Day through Nov. 9.

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said his deputies will be stepping up patrols around voter ballot drop-off boxes and the county’s election headquarters. Reese said then that there have been no specific threats directed toward the elections in the county.

Just last Thursday, Reese, Lovell and State Police Superintendent Terri Davie said the command structure for the election hadn’t been finalized but they pledged to work together.

“We have a long history of working together,” Lovell said then. “We’re working very closely with one another and other partners and elected officials to make sure we have the operational resources on hand.”

The governor last issued a similar joint unified command during the Sept. 26 weekend when the Proud Boys rallied in North Portland’s Delta Park. On that day, the U.S. Marshals Service, at the request of former State Police Supt. Travis Hampton, gave special deputy federal marshal status to 56 Portland police officers who are members of the bureau’s Rapid Response Team.

The federal designation of those Portland officers remains in effect, as does the deputization of certain state troopers. The city of Portland is suing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security over the continued federal designation. The city attorney had asked federal authorities to rescind the federal powers for the city officers but Oregon’s U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams and U.S. Marshal Russ Berger refused, saying it serves as a deterrent to violence against officers.

The state police mobile response team, made up of about 75 troopers, had received federal deputization in late July, when state police took over enforcement on the exterior of the federal courthouse. That federal authority also remains for state police. The special designation allows federal prosecutors to pursue charges of assault on a federal officer against anyone who assaults a deputized local officer.

Federal law enforcement officers, though, are expected to face court-ordered restrictions governing their response to protests outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse stemming from a civil suit filed by two state lawmakers, the Western States Center, a local church and a legal observer in the same federal court.

— Maxine Bernstein


(c)2020 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)

Visit The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) at www.oregonian.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.

Rating: 3.2/5. From 5 votes.
Please wait...