Biden’s DOJ: Portland PD needs to come up with a plan to reform police use of force

PORTLAND, OR– U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers are requesting that the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) produce a plan on how they will “properly” report, analyze, and investigate officers’ use of force.

According to The Oregonian, the city has refused and contends that such a correction plan is not required under the 2014 court approved settlement agreement on police reforms with the Justice Department.

The 2014 settlement reportedly called for reforms to the PPB’s training, oversight, supervision, use of force policies, and restructuring police crisis intervention services as well as finding ways to conduct investigations into allegations of police misconduct more quickly.

Now, DOJ attorneys are demanding that PPB produce a specific correction plan regarding how they will report, analyze, and investigate use of force incidents. They are accusing the City of Portland and the PPB of failing to abide by the provisions of the 2014 settlement.

U.S. Attorney Jared Hager has alleged that officers’ handling of use of force incidents during the six consecutive months of rioting that took place in downtown Portland over summer 2020 is “evidence” that the PPB is not abiding by the conditions of the 2014 court order.

Hager stated:

“Over the summer it was revealed to us and for the city, the community, and to the world really, that there is a systemic failure to implement some of the terms of the settlement agreement.”

Jonas Geissler, a senior trial attorney with the DOJ added:

“Having failed the system for investigation of force at the front end, you starve the accountability system on the back end. Absent such data, I don’t know where we go yet from here. We’ll have to see.”

The DOJ lawyers are demanding the city produce data, evidence, and a clear plan outlining how they will comply with the settlement requirements.

The stalemate could prompt the DOJ to issue a formal notice of non-compliance to the city, a step not taken in the seven years since U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon approved the agreement. It could essentially bring both sides back before a federal judge. 

In February, the DOJ reportedly found that the PPB failed to meet four key reforms under the 2014 settlement. The department has cited PPB’s inappropriate use and management of force during social justice protests last year, inadequate training, subpart police oversight, and a failure to adequately share an annual Police Bureau report with the public as required.

DOJ lawyers are claiming that police used force during 2020’s mass protests that violated bureau policy, with officers not distinguishing between active versus passive resistance before firing rubber bullets and other impact munitions.

The report added that police supervisors allegedly frequently failed to investigate or analyze use of force by officers, gave blanket approval to use force with no real analysis and often “cut and pasted” identical or similar language into their reviews. 

Mary Claire Buckley, a civilian employee who oversees the Police Bureau’s Office of Inspector General, pushed back on the DOJ’s concerns. She said that the city has never had to “write up our plan” in the past.

She added that the PPB was so inundated during six consecutive months of rioting, looting, and attacks on police that took place over summer 2020 that they simply did not have the manpower to complete all the paperwork required under the settlement.

Buckley said:

“We were overwhelmed by the unprecedented protest activity. No other city in this country had 171 straight days of protest activity.”

Instead of their typical 40 use of force reports per month, Buckley stated that the PPB was dealing with as many as 3,000 in June 2020.

She said:

“It was not that the bureau didn’t have a system. It’s not that we deliberately didn’t do the work. It was just that there was so much of it that we couldn’t keep up.”

She noted that the city received the federal report on about six weeks ago. She said in a statement:

“We have committed to doing additional training for the members on crowd control.”

She added that PPB has every intention of having a training and addressing the points that the DOJ has raised on the content of police force reports, analysis by supervisors, and the timeliness of their reviews.

Hager said the inability to track and promptly review uses of force is a significant concern. He said:

“Holding officers to account, if use of force is not in policy or not constitutional, that’s an important aspect of the settlement agreement. It’s really at the core of the settlement agreement. The bureau system isn’t set up to handle that. That’s something that needs to be addressed.

“If the system can’t handle the amount of force that the city chooses to use in a crowd control situation, well then that’s a problem that we’re now confronted with.”

DOJ attorneys said that the PPB is obligated under the settlement to hold public meetings at each of its three precincts. The DOJ attorneys stated:

“The federal government reserves its right to seek enforcement of the provisions of this Agreement if it determines that PPB or the City have failed to fully comply with any provision of this Agreement.”

The DOJ would provide a formal notice to the city and allow for a response in 30 days. Mediation would follow if a resolution could not be reached. If mediation fails, the DOJ could ask a judge to enforce compliance.

Hager added:

“Ultimately, we can’t force the city to do anything. If the rubber hits the road, that’s ultimately what the department can do.”

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LET Unity

After nearly a year, Portland Mayor and other city leaders finally condemn anarchist violence in city

March 16th, 2021

PORTLAND, OR – Mayor Ted Wheeler, among other city leaders, recently addressed and rightfully condemned the ongoing violence and criminal acts that have been plaguing Portland for roughly nine months.

Even more surprisingly, the city mayor even went as far as to call out these very groups committing these criminal acts under the facade of “some noble cause.”

As the old adage goes, better late than never – and that can be what best describes the timeliness of the sentiments shared by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on March 15th. 

For roughly nine months, Portland has been dealing with protests and riots, and the mayor and other city leaders have reached their wits end to the nonsensical destructive and criminal actions that have plagued the city. 

When speaking during the news conference, Mayor Wheeler condemned the criminal acts that have been disingenuously tarped with some sort of effort to advance social issues: 

“The community is sick and tired of people engaging in criminal destruction and violence and doing it under the guise of some noble cause.”

U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon Scott Erik Asphaug also weighed in on these anarchist groups’ antics: 

“The people who work here support the voices of racial and social justice and will not be intimidated from doing our jobs by the ugly graffiti or broken windows.”

“We do not confuse the voices of the many with the shouts of the few who hope to hold our city hostage by petty crime and violence.”

One of the biggest targets for vandalism over the past nine months has been the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland, which the Department of Justice has paid over $1.5 million to repair damages caused by rioters. 

Former state Senator Avel Gordly, who happens to have been the first black woman elected to the Oregon State Senate, chimed in on the anarchist groups that have caused this sort of damage to the city: 

“The misguided and miseducated anarchists reject civility and instead intentionally create mayhem through criminally destructive behavior tearing up our city. This must stop.”

“I say to them today, ‘Stop you are not helping, you are hurting black people.’”

While most would agree with the notion that an overwhelming majority of the destruction and criminal acts that have come from these protests and riots stem from those holding far-left ideologies, Mayor Wheeler stated that no matter someone’s political leanings – these criminal acts won’t be tolerated: 

“We do not support criminal destruction — that applies to everyone regardless of your politics.”

Recently, protesters in Portland were upset that police wound up using a kettling tactic on March 12th that resulted in roughly 100 protesters getting boxed-in an area and detained briefly. 

PPB Assistant Police Chief Chris Davis addressed that disdain, saying the following: 

“I want to be clear that this was not a protest group.”

“This was a group of people who have come to believe that they are entitled to damage other people’s property, threaten community members and assault police officers.”

It gets even better though – Mayor Wheeler also gave his approval of the kettling employed by police that evening: 

“My observation is that tactic was used successfully, it was used peacefully, and it ended what could have been further criminal destruction in the city of Portland.”

“In that particular case, I applaud PPB for their thoughtfulness, planning and attention to detail and legally dotting I’s and crossing T’s.”

And while some might claim that police kettling is either illegal or a violation of constitutional rights, Willamette University law professor Laura Appleman recently set the record straight on those false assumptions: 

“I understand people don’t like [kettling], but that is different from actually being against the Fourth Amendment, or the Fifth Amendment or the First Amendment and those are the three amendments that these groups are claiming were violated.”

Groups like the ACLU proclaim that said tactic is “aggressive and indiscriminate” and winds up forcing the likes of peaceful protesters, legal observers and journalists into having to show police identification. 

Appleman pointed out that in cases such as protests that bear criminal activities, even peaceful protesters aren’t immune from being detained for a police interview/interaction: 

“I feel bad for the peaceful protesters, but I think you should know if you are in a situation where people start doing things that are illegal, your First Amendment rights will not magically save you from being asked to give identification…you’re not getting anywhere with this argument.”

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LET Unity

Recently, we at Law Enforcement Today reported on acts of destruction carried out by these very groups on March 6th in Portland. 

Here’s that previous report. 


PORTLAND, OR – The Portland Public Schools headquarters was the target of both an arson attack and various vandalism during the early morning hours of March 6th. 

Among the destruction at the building was various spray painted taggings – including one tagging with the phrase “No Justice, No Peace”.

According to the Portland Police, Portland Fire and Rescue responded to a fire alarm that was going off at approximately 3:15 a.m. on March 6th at the Portland Public School Administration Building located at 501 North Dixon Street.

By the time PF&R respondents arrived on the scene, they witnessed three vehicle ablaze inside of a parking garage which the official release described as two “cargo vans and one was a large box truck.”

Investigators believe that whomever was responsible for the incident may have “gained entry to a fenced area on the property, started the fires, and vandalized the building.”

Journalist Andy Ngo shared an image of the charred remains of one of the vehicles in a post to Twitter, implying that said incident may have been the work of local BLM and/or Antifa enthusiasts: 

“The Portland Public Schools headquarters was severely damaged in an arson attack. One of the graffiti messages repeats a BLM-Antifa mantra. An anarchist symbol was also sprayed on the building.”

To the credit of Ngo, the vandalism from the building did showcase evidence of such – as there was the phrase “No Justice, No Peace” spray painted one one of the exterior walls on the building, as well as the words “Learning Not Schools” that was spelled with the “A” stylized as the anarchy symbol. 

Office windows were smashed as well, with now plywood covering the gaping holes where the panes were destroyed. 

PPS Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero released the following statement about the vandalism: 

“The Portland Public Schools central office administration building was vandalized overnight; the incident included multiple district vehicles being set on fire. 

In addition to food delivery trucks and maintenance vans being destroyed, office windows were smashed and graffiti was spray painted on the building.

While I am relieved that no one was hurt and there was no further damage to the building, this malicious act of arson and property destruction last night was criminal and it has no place in our community. This was an attack on our city’s public school system.

This act of violence will not deter us from our commitment to educating our students, providing them meals, or any of the other work we are privileged to carry out every day in support of our students and families.”

While no arrests have been made in the case, it seems like Antifa-influenced groups like the Eugene Youth Liberation Front are pretty pleased with the destruction that occurred at the PPS building. 

Another Twitter account that carries the handle “Filler Distro PGH” – which is a group that openly spreads pro-anarchy and rioting news – also seemed quite pleased about the destruction. 

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Author: Jenna Curren

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