PORTLAND, Ore. – The president of the Portland Police Association says the mayor “failed miserably” in a letter to its membership.

Turner had posted a statement on the Portland Police Association Facebook page Thursday saying there is no place for “political bias” in day-to-day policing decisions. Although not mentioned specifically, the statement was posted days after Wheeler defended his previous decision to keep police away from the demonstration outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Southwest Portland.

Portland Police Association

(Portland Police Association Facebook)

“If you need our help, it is our responsibility to be there.”

– Daryl Turner, president, Portland Police Association

This is what Daryl Turner wrote:

Public Safety – Always Our Number One Priority

As police officers, our primary responsibility and duty is public safety; to ensure our city is a safe place to live, work, and raise a family. If someone calls for help and police are dispatched, we respond, without regard to who you are or where you are from. It makes no difference whether you are a soccer mom, an off-duty police officer, a CEO, or homeless; if you need our help, it is our responsibility to be there.

We appreciate the words of support from Chief Outlaw and continue to look to her for operational guidance on important policing matters. It should be self-evident that a trained, experienced, police executive should be making important, day-to-day policing decisions for our communities and our organization. There is no place for personal, political bias when it comes to providing public safety services to our communities. In that respect, our Mayor, who is also our Police Commissioner, has failed miserably.

As Mayor, Mr. Wheeler can certainly have his own personally held political beliefs. In contrast, as Police Commissioner, he must set his personal political beliefs aside and ensure public safety is his top priority. Politics have no place in the operations of the Portland Police Bureau. If Chief Outlaw’s review reveals flawed policy direction from the Mayor/Police Commissioner that includes selective enforcement of our laws, that is certainly problematic and cause for grave concern.

Our Officers protect our communities and enforce the law irrespective of personal, political beliefs. Perhaps that is a lesson for the Police Commissioner.

Daryl Turner, President
Portland Police Association

In response, Mayor Ted Wheeler on Friday emailed Portland police officers directly to express his support for them, responding to Turner’s criticism, reported KOIN.

“Serving as a police officer is undoubtedly one of the most challenging, risky and demanding jobs in our city,” Wheeler wrote, noting that he had supported the addition of more than 50 new police officer positions, and thanking the police for their service to the community. He called “conflicting stories” around his support of the police “unfortunate,” adding “It is an honor to serve as your Police Commissioner.”

The union representing ICE employees has accused Wheeler of preventing police from responding to their calls for assistance during confrontations with protesters. In a letter of response, Wheeler said police were not prohibited from responding to 911 calls, but added he “consistently stated that I did not want the Portland Police Bureau to be engaged or sucked into a conflict for the purpose of securing federal property that houses a federal agency with their own federal police force.”

Portland mayor

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. (U.S. Department of Labor)

Wheeler has repeatedly said he supported the purpose of the protest but not the camp that formed adjacent to the facility.

During a previous meeting with the Portland Tribune editorial board, Wheeler said there were occasional conflicts between his roles as mayor and police commissioner. He said they were the result of Portland’s unique form of government, where the members of the council also oversee city bureaus. Mayors have traditionally assigned the police to themselves.

Turner also sent out a statement recently calling the city of Portland a “cesspool,” and later said the city needs better services for the homeless. His statement responded to a quote of Wheeler in The Oregonian about the paper’s finding that half of the arrests last year were of homeless people. Turner has suggested Wheeler does not support the city’s police.

Here is the complete text of Wheeler’s statement:

It is an honor to serve as your Police Commissioner.

Serving as a police officer is undoubtedly one of the most challenging, risky and demanding jobs in our city. Once again, you will be called upon to secure the safety of our residents during this weekend’s planned demonstrations. I know that this is a particularly challenging situation, and I want you to know that I have complete trust in your ability to manage it. As always, you will rely on the strong leadership of your command staff, your training and your good judgment.

It is unfortunate that there are conflicting stories around my support for the Portland Police Bureau at such a critical time. I believe it is my duty to clarify a couple of points.

While you were doing your part to protect and serve the community, I was pleased to champion an increase the number of sworn police officer positions by 52, strengthen funding for the Service Coordination Team, increase support for the Behavioral Health Unit, fund new trainers and data analysts, and work with local business leaders to support increased revenues for critical services, including public safety enhancements. I will continue to support you as your Mayor.

I also appreciate my strong relationship with the Command Staff. Chief Outlaw has exceeded my expectations – I am glad she accepted my offer to lead our team. She has proven herself to be an effective leader for the Bureau and the community, and she and her leadership team have my full confidence.

The Bureau is fortunate to also benefit from top-flight non-sworn staff. You are the backbone of our operations, and your work is often difficult and overlooked. The Bureau could not succeed without you.

Thank you again for your service to the community. I want you to know that I appreciate it.

Respectfully, Ted Wheeler.

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