Mike Schmidt took over Monday as Multnomah County’s new district attorney, months ahead of schedule.
Schmidt, who was elected in May with 76% of the vote, originally planned to take over in January. But in June, outgoing District Attorney Rod Underhill decided to retire early.
That left Schmidt six weeks rather than six months to prepare to take over.
“Expectations are very high and I think that’s great,” Schmidt told OPB’s “Think Out Loud” on Monday. “It does give us the momentum that we need to show the support of the community to make these changes.”
Schmidt pledged to examine hundreds of cases awaiting him involving protesters who have been arrested in recent months.
“I’ve got to sit down with the attorneys in this office, have them get me up to speed on the cases, what they’re seeing,” Schmidt said. “Once I’m fully apprised of the situation, information that we have – I’m also working with community members – we’ll get a policy out pretty quick.”
Schmidt said before prosecuting cases involving protesters, he’d look at whether such a prosecution increases public safety.
“I’d rather put my resources to things like domestic violence so that we can really see the impact on public safety,” he said.
Schmidt said he’d also welcome a conversation about reductions to police funding. But noted there’s a recent increase in shooting and homicides in Portland that will require resources to bring those cases.
Schmidt said his office was investigating the role of federal officers in Portland, something that came to light last month when Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued several federal law enforcement agencies.
“We are in the process right now,” Schmidt said. “If we’re able to collect the evidence we need to make that proof, that prove those cases beyond a reasonable doubt, we’re going to bring those charges.”