Portland’s police union announced Wednesday that all members of the executive board have voted “no confidence” in the City Council, decrying what they call a lack of council support.
Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association, the union for rank-and-file bureau members, said in a press conference Wednesday he no longer believed the Council was backing the police bureau.
“I have no confidence that the city will stop the rioting and looting and protect the safety and livelihoods of Portlanders,” Turner said Wednesday. “I have no confidence that the City Council will guide the Portland Police Bureau forward into a new era of policing that prioritizes safety, equity, reform and police funding. I have no confidence that City Council respects and supports its rank-and-file officers.
“If the City Council won’t stand up for Portland, we will,” he continued.
Turner later said out of the four members on the Council, he believed only Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, the police commissioner, had “spoken up” in support of the the city's police force, but called the support “sporadic and spotty.”
Wednesday's announcement comes on the heels of critical statements made by elected officials who have condemned police response to protests against police brutality and systemic racism as overly aggressive and lacking restraint. Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and House Speaker Tina Kotek have all released statements condemning police tactics.
Turner said Wednesday he believes elected officials are making statements based on “knee-jerk reactions and not experience.”
Earlier this week, Turner had said he wanted to see Brown and Kotek visit the front lines of the nightly protests in downtown Portland after their comments.
“I'd like to invite them down to stand in the protest line, in front of the line with officers,” he said on a call with OPB. "Do that for a day or two, and then multiply that times about 30 … and then they will see that our officers, as Ron Herndon, civil rights activist from Portland, said, show great restraint.”
Last Tuesday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office made public an email by Herndon, in which he wrote that he believed the police had “shown more restraint than [he] could ever muster up.”
That same day, Kotek released a statement calling police officers’ actions “completely unacceptable” and said their widespread use of tear gas in a residential neighborhood showed “an utter inability to exercise restraint.” Brown later followed up with her own statement, saying she was disturbed by what she believed to be a “a pattern of escalation” between police and protesters.
Turner said he believed the top officials would change their tune should they decide to see the protests for themselves — not on a live stream, he emphasized, but in person, or at least in a command post.
“It's just an open invitation to any elected official,” he said. “I have not heard back from anyone.”
Turner also said Wednesday the union would be "pushing" two initiatives forward: The first, he said, would involve quarterly roundtables between community members and police. The union also announced an "eight-part plan." There was little detail of this plan on the union's website, aside from one-sentence summary of each of the plan's eight legs. Above these eight points, the page reads "You Can't Have Police Reform Without Police Funding."
In contrast to the loud calls by protests each night to cut funding from the police, Turner seemed to say Wednesday that to reform the police, the bureau would need to be provided with more funding.
“This is part of what City Council can do,” said Turner, who noted that the City Council can make adjustments to the budget in the fall. “They can add money to the budget to be able to pay for some of these reforms.”
Last month, the city cut $15 million from the police bureau's budget, dissolving three of the bureau's most controversial specialty units. This left the police bureau with roughly $230 million.