In police-defunded Portland, armed private security (including U.S. veterans) now patrolling downtown

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PORTLAND, OR- This is how they are now handling violence in police-defunded Portland, Oregon.

The Daily Wire tells us that armed private security, paid for by local businesses, are now helping keep the peace (be that as it may in Portland) in the midst of a crime spree, spurred by the Portland city commission slashing the police budget by $16 million.

Local news sources confirm that Portland, like most Democratically controlled cities nationwide has seen an explosion in crime.

“Homicides in Portland increased from 28 in 2019 to 54 in 2020, a nearly one-hundred percent increase in just one year. Other cities similar in size to Portland saw significant increases in murders—Seattle went from 34 to 53 homicides, Minneapolis went from 48 to 82, while Milwaukee nearly doubled as well, going from 97 in 2019 to 190 last year,” according to KGW.

According to Fox News, much of the private armed security has been hired to patrol a section of the city known for its bars and nightlife in the midst of a year of violence in those areas of the city.

“My job is to get you home safe,” said one guard for the Ravencrest Force Protection Group to Willamette Weekly.

“Unless you’re the perpetrator. The only way for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing. So I’m going to do something,” said the guard, Jean-Pierre LaFont, doing his best imitation of words attributed to Edmund Burke.

“This once was a great city,” LaFont added. “This is a great city. It’s the best. We just forgot.”

LaFont is a former Navy SEAL, and patrols Portland’s Old Town.

He wears a bulletproof vest and carries a 9mm pistol and an AR-15. He is usually in the area every Friday and Saturday night, hired by Ravencrest following a shooting in the area this past June, where two men were shot and bullets were flying across eight cars.

According to LaFont’s boss, Army veteran Cory Webb, many of those employed by Ravencrest are military veterans. Webb says they have to treat patrolling downtown Portland “almost like overseas. Keep your head on a swivel.”

Ravencrest isn’t the only business that has taken to hiring private security in the Old Town district.

At least three private security firms have been hired to fill the void downtown in order to keep the peace, as the Portland Police Bureau has its hands full after the budget was defunded and numerous officers have either quit or retired.

A number of officers are also out on disability, injured in the antifa and Black Lives Matter riots in the city.

Last year, Portland saw over 100 consecutive nights of riots and protests following the death of George Floyd to a combination of fentanyl and meth overdose, heart conditions and positional asphyxia.

The cleaning and repair bill for federal buildings alone was estimated to be in excess of $2 million, while officials in the city estimate some $23 million in damages and lost business in downtown Portland.

Subsequent to the riots and protests, instead of increasing its police budget the city slashed the budget, led by reprobate city commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, a pro-antifa, anti-police radical.

Part of those budget cuts resulted in Portland losing its Central Precinct Entertainment Detail. Nine officers used to be assigned to the area, however now only two officers patrol the area.

Portland Police Bureau spokesman Lt. Greg Pashley says, “We’re working with bare-bones staffing. It’s like trying to paint a wall without enough paint.”

While officers assigned to the area are able to call for backup from the other officers assigned to the Central Precinct, many times those officers are otherwise tied up on their own cases.

“We’re at the point in the Police Bureau where any time we add staffing to a certain unit—say, the Entertainment Detail—we have to take it away from something else,” Central Precinct Capt. Robert Simon said. “Do I cut my daytime bike team downtown to staff the Entertainment Detail?”

This has led businesses to take matters into their own hands. Many complained about the shortage of police in the city.

“There aren’t enough police officers,” said Jessie Burke, co-owner of the Society Hotel and president of the Old Town Chinatown Community Association. “We’re having to do what the government used to do. We’re king of running an underground government to keep things safe.”

“We defunded programs before we figured out what the replacement programs are,” Burke rued. “The city is in this decision-making spiral of Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid.”

For LaFont, he told the outlet he has witnessed and stopped a number of violent situations, including last weekend when a fight broke out in a bar, and he had to call police for assistance.

Thirty minutes later, gunshots rang out, however people in the area were unmoved, continuing to party as the security officer remained on high alert in the event the bar and/or patrons became targeted.

“Our work has helped the city over the past year by being a useful deterrent. We have lowered a significant presence of criminal activity within the areas we have patrolled. My officers are very courteous, professional, and approachable. Our motto (Respect, Connect, Protect) helps us interact with our fellow citizen,” Webb told Fox News.

Like many cities, where liberal politicians bowed to the woke mob and violent activists and defunded the police, many…Portland included…have reversed course and are now calling for additional law enforcement officers and resources.

“It is obvious from where I sit that we do not have adequate resources deployed on our streets in a proactive way,” Wheeler said in July after a particularly violent weekend of shootings.

“And so I will fight for additional resources for the police bureau, I will fight for more police officers, and I will fight for more tools and whatever support the police bureau needs to get the job done,” Wheeler said.

At the beginning of the month, Portland passed a regrettable milestone, recording the most homicides in the city thus far in this year in over 25 years.

January to August 2, Portland has seen 56 murders, with shootings surging; July alone saw 150 shootings, the most in a single month since police started recording gun crime data in 2018.

Fox News said they reached out to Wheeler for comment on businesses having to hire private security, however, didn’t receive a timely response.

It’s truly a sad time when businesses are forced to hire firms with an extensive military bearing to handle security in cities that have had their police defunded. Think a domestic version of Blackwater. Is this what we’ve come to? 

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In case you missed it, a couple of months ago we reported about the entire Portland Police Bureau’s Rapid Response Team resigning. For more on that, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

PORTLAND, OR – The Portland Police Bureau’s Rapid Response Team, the unit responsible for policing protests in the city, voted unanimously to resign on Wednesday during a meeting with the police union.

This follows the criminal indictment of an officer for assault stemming from a riot in August 2020.

The Rapid Response Team, a group of police officers that volunteer for the post, is deployed to respond to riots, civil unrest, and demonstrations in Portland.

Response team Officer Corey Budworth was indicted this week for alleged excessive force used during a riot last year.

A second Rapid Response Team member, Det. Erik Kammerer is being investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice over similar allegations.

On the night of August 18, 2020, Antifa militants threw a Molotov cocktail into the County Sheriff’s Department Headquarters as the Rapid Response Team struggled to contain the riot. Officer Budworth was using a baton to hold back rioters when he struck a female in the head.

Officer Budworth struck activist photographer and rioter Teri Jacobs with the baton in the head from behind, then again as she fell to the ground. Video of the incident spread through social media.

The officer stated the strike was accidental, and the use of force was cleared by an independent investigation as being within use-of-force policy compliance.

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt disagreed and his office indicted Officer Budworth this week on one count of fourth-degree assault.

 

The Portland Police Union said the prosecution of Budworth was “politically-driven”:

“Unfortunately, this decorated public servant has been caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system.”

Portland Police Association Executive Director Daryl Turner told the Lars Larson Show, a local radio program, that he was concerned officers would resign because of the prosecution, which he called a “witch hunter.”

A source within the Portland Police Bureau told The Post Millennial that Officer Budworth’s indictment was a blatant attempt to “hold police accountable” despite the victim not coming forward on her own accord. The source said that an attorney observed the video online and approached Jacobs about pressing charges.

A Portland officer said that the resignations from the response unit leave the city unprepared, even as massive demonstrations are once again planned for the upcoming weekend:

“Now that the riot team is no more, we have no clue what’s going to happen. We don’t have enough patrol officers to be pulled from the road to handle huge crowds. We are only backups with no gear like the riot team has.”

District Attorney Schmidt has consistently refused to charge rioters in Portland while focusing on police actions. His office announced in August 2020 that his office will not prosecute many protesters who have been arrested during Portland “demonstrations.”

Schmidt said:

“As prosecutors, we acknowledge the depth of emotion that motivates these demonstrations and support those who are civically engaged through peaceful protesting.

“We will undermine public safety, not promote it, if we do not take action to bring about immediate change.”

Prosecutors will scrutinize the cases of protesters accused of resisting arrest or assaulting a public safety officer and consider “the chaos of a protesting environment, especially after tear gas or other less-lethal munitions have been deployed against community members en masse,” the district attorney’s office said in a news release.

By the end of May, Schmidt’s office had rejected almost three-quarters of the 1,057 protest-related arrests referred by police.

While not prosecuting protesters, the DA is reviewing incidents in search of other officers to indict. After announcing the indictment of Officer Budworth, Schmidt said that several other use-of-force incidents are under review:

“We have looked at multiple cases already and I think there are still several more that we’re continuing to look at.”

Schmidt asserted that Officer Budworth’s case was not unusual, implying that other officers may be charged:

“This is one case of multiple that we’re looking at and have looked at. So, it’s not necessarily an outlier that way.”

Schmidt commented on the findings of the Portland Police Association that Officer Budworth followed proper procedures and training:

“If that’s true, I think that is problematic. We can’t be training officers to do things that violate criminal law.”

Schmidt also admitted during an interview with OPB’s Think Out Loud that his prosecutors are actively reaching out to “victims” observed on videotapes of police responses to gather complaints against officers because he claims it is hard to determine harm or injury from watching a video:

“I can’t say specifically how many we’re looking at, but when people are interested in reporting and there’s evidence there, we review it and decide whether or not to go forward.”

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Grand jury indicts Portland officer on assault charge for “legally excessive” use of force. Huh?

June 16, 2021

 

 PORTLAND, OR- A grand jury has indicted a Portland police officer on an assault charge that prosecutors allege was an “excessive and unlawful use of force” during a protest over summer 2020.

According to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, on Tuesday, June 15th, Portland Police Officer Corey Budworth was indicted on one count of fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor, stemming from the August 2020 incident.

At the time of the incident, Budworth was on the bureau’s Rapid Response Team, responsible for crowd control, and is accused of striking a woman in the head with a baton during the August 18, 2020 protest outside the Multnomah Building. 

According to reports, the indictment marks the first time a Portland police officer is facing prosecution for striking or firing at someone during a protest.

Court records show that the indictment accuses Budworth of “unlawfully, knowingly, and recklessly causing physical injury” to the woman, identified as Teri Jacobs. Jacobs alleges that Budworth “bashed her in the face” with his baton after he had already knocked her to the ground.

The police union is pushing back, characterizing the prosecution as politically driven and said that Budworth’s baton strike to the woman’s head was accidental and not criminal. The Portland Police Association said in a statement:

“We stand by our officer, truth, and justice.”

A steam of various videos from the night of the protest, that turned into an unlawful assembly, shows Budworth, who at the time was only identifiable by the No. 37 written on his helmet, hitting the back of the protester’s head with his baton. 

According to the video, the officer knocked the woman on the ground and struck her in the head with the baton again while she was on the ground. However, the Police Bureau found that the strike to the head was not intentional and therefore not considered lethal force.

Additionally, the Independent Police Review office reviewed the video and viewed the strike as a “push,” which was noted in compliance officer Dennis Rosenbaum’s report. Rosenbaum also stated that the video did not support either stance.

In Budworth’s case, prosecutors allege that he had no legal justification for his use of force. Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt added in a statement:

“The deployment of force was legally excessive under the circumstances.”

Reportedly, after the incident, Jacobs filed a civil rights and battery suit against the city of Portland, “Officer 37,” and other unnamed officers in the U.S. District Court in Portland. According to court records, the city and Jacobs reached a settlement of the civil suit in spring 2021.

The city has agreed to pay her $50,000, plus $11,000 in attorney fees. On Monday, June 14th, Budworth testified before the grand jury. Jacobs and a police detective also testified earlier in the month.

Budworth has spent four of his six years on the force with the Police Bureau as a member of the specially trained Rapid Response Team, which does crowd control. In a statement, the Portland Police Association said:

“Unfortunately, this decorated public servant has been caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and politicized criminal justice system.”

On August 18th, 2020, police declared a riot outside the Multnomah Building after someone had launched a Molotov cocktail at the building, starting a fire. Budworth and other Rapid Response Team officers were told to clear the crowd away from the building and the fire.

According to the union, once moved, some in the crowd continued to march back to the building and again, the police crowd control team was told to disperse the crowd, which is when a “confrontation ensued.”

The union stated that Budworth used his baton to move Jacobs out of the area and that after Jacobs fell to the ground he made “one last baton push to try and keep her on the ground, which accidentally struck Ms. Jacobs in the head.” The union added:

“He faced a violent and chaotic, rapidly evolving situation, and he used the lowest level of baton force, a push; not a strike or a jab, to remove Ms. Jacobs from the area.”

On Tuesday afternoon, June 14th, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who also serves a police commissioner, said in a statement:

“I take this matter very seriously. As Mayor, I hold Portland Police Bureau members to a very high standard of professional conduct. Our city experienced over 170 days of protests following the murder of George Floyd and I also want to acknowledge that our officers faced great risk and protected our city in extreme conditions.”

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