Portland Police will no longer stop drivers for ‘minor infractions’ to reduce stops for ‘people of color’

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PORTLAND, OR – According to reports, Portland Police will no longer be stopping motorists for minor traffic infractions, such as equipment failures or expired plates.

The rationale behind this move is, reportedly, to reduce disproportionate stops of non-white drivers on the road. 

Reports also indicate a slight modification on how proposed roadside vehicle searches will be conducted moving forward.  

The modern dilemma of over-policing versus under-policing continues, with the latest chapter cropping up in none other than Portland – a city that has managed to attract national attention over the past year for an amalgamation of reasons. 

Apparently, Portland Police will be feeling the wind of change much like a Scorpions concert-goer did in 1990, as procedural changes are headed in the realm of traffic stops. 

Reportedly, the Portland Police will no longer be initiating traffic stops for the likes of equipment failures and malfunctions or expired plates.

While expired plates are pretty self explanatory, Portland motorists can likely breathe a sigh of relief knowing they likely won’t be pulled over for that busted taillight or turn signal that blinks a tad too rapidly. 

However, the rationale behind this endeavor is supposedly aimed at deterring disproportionate stops of people of color.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, citing PPB data, said that while Portland has a six percent black demographic, black drivers happen to encompass 18% of traffic stops in the city.

Yet, it wasn’t clarified as to percentage of those traffic stops of black drivers were related to equipment failures and malfunctions or expired plates.

Another tweak to traffic stops would be that when a motorist is pulled over, officers will have to let drivers know that they have the ability to not consent to a vehicular search if one is requested while roadside. 

Furthermore, if a driver consents to a vehicle search without the officer having a warrant, they have the authority to instruct the officer to cease searching their vehicle at any time. 

Nonetheless, Mayor Wheeler also pointed out that part of the changes in traffic enforcement relates to a staffing issue for officers working the beat: 

“Our staffing on the streets is inadequate.”

It’s likely of little shock to hear that the PPB is seeing it’s lowest staffing levels in decades, reportedly being as much as 150 short to function at the departments “authorized strength.”

Portland has endured a tumultuous year, and the Portland Police have endured the brunt of criticism locally while the nation observed copious amounts of lawlessness causing ruin in the streets. 

This has, with little surprise, devastated morale with police in the city. 

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Recently, Law Enforcement Today reported on another one of the ramifications associated with deteriorating police morale in the city – this time in form of the entire Rapid Response Team resigning from their specialized team aimed at controlling riots. 

Here’s that previous report from earlier in June. 

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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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