Law Enforcement, Portland, Washington County

Washington County Sheriff will not send deputies to Portland demonstrations

Governor Kate Brown during a Monday, July 13 press conference. Screenshot from OHA Youtube stream

A plan by Governor Kate Brown to address continued demonstrations and civil unrest in the wake of the killing of a demonstrator in Portland is showing cracks less than 24 hours after it was released to the public. 

Brown claimed her plan was a “unified law enforcement plan,” but at least two of the agencies — the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office — she named in a press release on Sunday night were not made aware of their place in Brown’s plan prior to the press release, and both, as well as the Gresham Police Department, according to OPB, have said they will not participate by sending deputies to the nightly affairs held largely in downtown Portland. 

“We all must come together—elected officials, community leaders, all of us—to stop the cycle of violence,” said Brown in the press release. “But this is only the first step. Real change will come from the hard work to achieve racial justice. And it starts with all of us listening to each other, and working together.

In the bullet points of the plan, Brown’s plan had this to say in the role that Washington and Clackamas County, as well as the Gresham Police Department, would be asked to take in Portland. 

“The Governor is asking Clackamas and Washington County Sheriff’s Offices and the City of Gresham Police Department to support the Portland Police Bureau with personnel and resources to keep the peace and protect free speech.”

The overview of the plan can be read here.

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts noted his surprise at his agency being named as part of the plan. “I was surprised to read that the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office was part of the plan since the Governor’s Office never contacted me,” he said in a statement. 

And in an email to the Banks Post, Washington County Sheriff’s Office Communications Sergeant Danny DiPietro said that Washington County was similarly unaware of their supposed role in ending the violence associated with the demonstrations. 

“Neither the Sheriff nor our office was made aware of the statement from the governor before it was released to media yesterday,” DiPetrio said. 

In a statement, Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett noted that his agency would not take a direct role in the Portland Police Bureau’s responsibilities. 

“As Washington County Sheriff, I commit to support PPB through indirect ways, like analyzing risks associated with social media, air support, assisting with a specific criminal investigation, etc. At this time I do not plan to send deputies to work directly in Portland.” 

Garrett said he was sympathetic to the PPB’s struggles, but cited a number of reasons he would not send Washington County Deputies to Portland.

“The lack of political support for public safety, the uncertain legal landscape, the current volatility combined with intense scrutiny on use of force presents an unacceptable risk if deputies were deployed directly,” Garrett said. 

He also noted his support for a different plan released jointly by the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association and the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police.

This article has been updated to note that Gresham Police Department have also said they will not send deputies to Portland.

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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