Portland City Commissioner proposes tighter restrictions on federally deputized police officers

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Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty wants tough restrictions placed on the dozens of federally deputized Portland police officers a week ahead of the general election with fears of escalated civil unrest.

Hardesty joined fellow City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly in calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to rescind its deputization of local police officers and state troopers as they continue to patrol Portland’s ongoing protests against police brutality.

Mayor Ted Wheeler has also requested that the DOJ rescind the deputization of city police in past weeks but has pursued no further action on the matter.

Fifty-six officers from the Portland Police Bureau were deputized as federal agents by the U.S. Marshal Service last month ahead of dueling political rallies in Portland so they could enter federal property such as the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse.

The DOJ has since declined the city’s requests to end local officers’ deputization.

Wheeler banned local officers from making arrests under federal law. An 18-year-old Oregonian has already been indicted on federal charges for hitting a police officer with an umbrella despite that ban.

Hardesty’s resolution bans officers from both making arrests under federal law and taking orders related to mass civil unrest from federal authorities or federally deputized local ones.

The resolution builds on prior legislation from the city council banning local officers from coordinating with federal agents deployed to the city under President Donald Trump’s executive order protecting federal monuments.

“Building on the mayor’s order to take no further action of any kind pursuant to the federal deputation, I am proposing a resolution that creates safeguards to further ensure these deputized officers remain under local control and protect Portlanders from being charged with bogus federal charges,” Hardesty wrote in a statement.

The only instances in which local officers can coordinate with federal authorities would be with the full permission of the city, the Portland police chief, or if Gov. Kate Brown assumed command of the Portland Police Bureau as she did briefly in September during a rally by the Proud Boys.

Under such conditions, any orders received would have to be shared with the Portland City Council.

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced that he will not prosecute protesters for low-level misdemeanors unrelated to property or persons crimes.

“The deputation of the 56 Rapid Response Team officers is a clear attempt by the federal government to take over our local police force, circumvent DA Schmidt’s protest arrest policy, and threaten everyone’s right to free speech and assembly,” Hardesty wrote. “I have made clear that as long as these officers are deputized, they should not respond to protests.”

The Portland City Council will hear public testimony on the resolutions Wednesday afternoon.

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