PORTLAND, OR – With violent crime rising within the city of Portland, officers within the Portland Police Bureau are struggling to keep up with quick responses to various calls and closings of active investigations.
Portland Police are overwhelmed with the violence in the city and are struggling to keep up with all the calls.https://t.co/wkHzHn9Jv6
— KATU News (@KATUNews) April 1, 2021
Evidence of this surge in crime that is hampering police resources can be showcases from the period that transpired overnight from March 30th into the morning of 31st – where Portland police or called to investigate a deadly stabbing and two shooting incidents.
Lieutenant Greg Pashley, a public information officer with the PPB, described the details surrounding the southwest Portland stabbing incident:
“So, the first one happened about midnight down on Southwest First and Southwest Ankeny. And this was a call where officers responded to an assault with a weapon. When they arrived they found someone who had apparently been stabbed.”
.@PortlandPolice had a very busy night. They got called to a deadly stabbing in SW Portland and two shootings. One shooting, in North Portland, was deadly. Police think the victim was a customer at a convenience store. The other shooting was in northeast Portland. #LiveOnK2
— Genevieve Reaume (@GenevieveReaume) March 31, 2021
The victim in that incident reportedly died from their sustained injuries, with police not yet having identified a suspect in the case.
Prior to the fatal stabbing, officers got called out to northeast Portland for a reported shooting incident, which Lieutenant Pashley described the circumstances of that case:
“Officers arrived and found a person had apparently been shot. That person was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.”
As for the suspect, police reportedly pursued the individual throughout the city until the suspect crashed a pickup truck through a fence in Mill Park. Lieutenant Pashley says officers attempted to talk the suspect down for several hours:
“That was the beginning of about four or five hours of conversation, negotiation. They called our Special Emergency Reaction Team and Crisis Negotiation Team who came and took over the scene.”
The person the man shot in NE Portland (before the chase and standoff), is expected to be ok. #LiveOnK2
— Genevieve Reaume (@GenevieveReaume) March 31, 2021
Police were said to have utilized CS gas in an effort to draw the suspect out of the vehicle; however, the suspect was said to have turned his own weapon on himself and committed suicide.
Not long after that incident, police were called to yet another shooting, which this one occurred in north Portland on Lombard at a 7-Eleven. According to Lieutenant Pashley, this shooting incident also proved to be fatal for the victim:
“There was some kind of incident in a convenient store or a convenient store parking lot. hat person was transported to the hospital in the ambulance. It’s an adult male and that man did not survive that gun shot wound. So, that is yet another homicide that’s under investigation.”
From what the PPB lieutenant says , that brings the total number of homicides within Portland for 2021 to 25. Yet, the police bureau has been dealing with this increase in violence since last year:
“We are at 69 homicides since July 1 of 2020, so these homicide detectives are essentially buried under their cases.”
According to Lieutenant Pashley, Portland Police have brought in more detectives and police officers to help work on some of these shooting investigations, though he says “quite frankly they can’t keep up”:
“What happens is when dozens of officers get tied up on a scene, like the one behind us, it does limit our ability to respond to other calls for service throughout the city.”
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In other recent news related to Portland Police, the DOJ is reportedly putting pressure on the police bureau to come up with a plan that addresses how to efficiently investigate and potentially modify police use-of-force.
Here’s that report from March.
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.
Portland agrees to provide information to the Department of Justice about their plans to address concerns of police's inappropriate use and management of force amid settlement agreement. https://t.co/MRHDWPNRJN
— KOIN News (@KOINNews) March 27, 2021
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.
“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.”
U.S. Department of Justice lawyers have asked Portland police to produce a plan on how they will properly report, analyze and investigate officers’ use of force, but the city has refused. https://t.co/pEtNbemtHC MT @maxoregonian
— Prison_Health (@Prison_Health) March 24, 2021
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 US Department of Justice has already dismissed more than a third of riot cases stemming from last year's violent BLM-Antifa riots in downtown Portland, including felony assault of officers. Many more dismissals are expected. #PortlandRiots #antifa https://t.co/rMxbfKdRJh
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) March 5, 2021
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.
“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.
“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.”
The Department of Justice Inspector General is launching an investigation into use of force allegations against federal law enforcement officials in Portland https://t.co/uu23rIX07o
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) July 23, 2020
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.
“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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