The Oregon State Police will no longer be assisting with Portland riot control, pulling out of the city after the district attorney announced that many crimes committed by rioters would not be prosecuted, according to the Oregonian.
About 100 state troopers had been assisting Portland police in controlling riots and protecting property during the nightly unrest that has been taking place in the city for at least 78 days.
After Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced Tuesday that crimes such as disorderly conduct, interference with a police officer, and resisting arrest might not be prosecuted in many cases, OSP Capt. Timothy Fox said the department would not be extending its assignment in the city, which he said was only supposed to be two weeks long anyway.
From the Oregonian:
State police committed to two weeks “and that two weeks ended today,” said spokesman Capt. Timothy R. Fox.
“We’re in a county that’s not going to prosecute this criminal behavior,” Fox added.
It was a pointed reference to Tuesday’s announcement by new Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt that his office won’t pursue many of the charges against demonstrators, including disorderly conduct, interfering with a police officer and even riot in some circumstances.
“The Oregon State Police is continually reassessing our resources and the needs of our partner agencies and at this time we are inclined to move those resources back to counties where prosecution of criminal conduct is still a priority,” Fox said in a statement. “Last night was our last night in Portland. This decision was based on the fact that our two week commitment ended last night…Troopers are returning to the communities that they are assigned to serve and protect.”
Schmidt released a memo Tuesday acknowledging the “depth of emotion” involved in the protests and riots, and expressing a desire not to undermine public safety by “leverag[ing] the force of the criminal justice system” against protesters who are protesting racial injustice.
“Seen through that lens, the prosecution of cases related solely to protest activities, most of which have a weak nexus to further criminality and which are unlikely to be deterred by prosecution, draws away from crucially needed resources,” the memo from the DA said.
The memo goes on to list interference with a police officer, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, escape III, harassment, and riot as cases that the DA’s office will “presumptively decline to charge” if the “most serious offenses are city ordinance violations and crimes that do not involve deliberate property damage, theft, or the use or threat of force against another person.”
Crimes like resisting arrest and assaulting a public safety officer “should be subjected to a high level of scrutiny” by the issuing deputy, and charges may not be pursued if the alleged crime is related to the “chaos of a protesting environment, especially after tear gas or other less-lethal munitions have been deployed against protesters en masse.”