Despite pleading from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will continue to use Oregon State Police, and other local law enforcement officers, designated as federal deputies to combat continued lawlessness and rioting in Portland. A key element of this designation helps protect the officers from violence, since assaulting a federal deputy would constitute a federal crime not subject to the political whims of local partisan prosecutors.
According to the Daily Wire (DW), the mayor’s office issued a statement noting that they’d “asked the U.S. Attorney’s office to withdraw the designation.” However, United States Attorney for Oregon, Billy Williams, said Wednesday that the Oregon State Police will remain federal deputies.
“The federal deputation supports front line law enforcement officers and their families in a way that they have not seen from City Hall,” Williams said in a press conference, per OPB.com. “Portlanders and Oregonians, in general, are sick of the boarded-up and dangerous conditions prevalent in downtown Portland due to a lack of leadership.”
The Daily Wire reported that the Oregon State Police say “they’re happy to keep the designation, given that it helps them ‘supply accountability to violent extremists’ and gives the U.S. Attorney ‘increased prosecutorial discretion if rioters should assault an officer.’”
DHS deputized Oregon State Police officers in the first place due to serious doubts that the local District attorney would not prosecute criminal protesters arrested during Portland’s riots. As of August, according to the Department of Justice, at least 74 individuals were facing federal charges from the violent riots that targeted the federal courthouse in downtown Portland.
Going a step further, the U.S. Attorney’s office even expanded the program last week, in anticipation of planned rallies by both far-right and far-left groups. Currently, according to DW, the federal deputy designation applies to about 50 Oregon State Police officers, 22 Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputies, and 56 members of the Portland Police Department’s “Rapid Response” task force.
Much to the Portland mayor’s dismay, all these officers will remain federal deputies until at least the end of 2020.