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Local Sheriffs Reject Oregon Governor's Plan for Policing Portland

A protester wearing a gas mask is seen during the nightly protests in downtown Portland, Oregon, Aug. 30, 2020.

Two county sheriffs in the city of Portland area have rejected Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s proposal that would have them support nightly patrols to reduce violence associated with protests in the city.

Brown, a Democrat, offered the plan that calls for state police to arrest people committing violent acts, while the Multnomah County district attorney prosecutes serious crimes committed in Portland’s home county.

Under the plan, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department would assist in the patrols, as well as arrests, and work to ensure there is adequate jail space.

Brown’s plan also reached out the sheriff’s offices in nearby Clackamas and Washington Counties to assist with personnel and resources, but, in separate statements Monday, officials refused, saying law enforcement is getting no support from prosecutors.

In a statement, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said had he been consulted by the governor about her plan, he would have told her more police enforcement will not solve the problem. He said the criminal justice system must do its part and hold offenders accountable.

Roberts said police are arresting the same people every night because they are not being charged by the district attorney. Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett expressed the same sentiment, saying the “lack of political support for public safety, the uncertain legal landscape” and “intense scrutiny on use of force” in Portland made the risks unacceptable for his deputies.

The rejection of Brown’s plan leaves state and local law enforcement to individually address continuing protests, as Portland approaches 100 consecutive nights of demonstrations.