The Portland City Council voted Thursday to assign two Portland Police officers to participate full time in an FBI task force that investigates potential terrorism cases.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, who has long opposed Portland Police participation in the group, changed his mind and cast the deciding vote in favor of re-joining the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The City Council withdrew from the task force in 2005 due to concerns about federal surveillance tactics in the War on Terror.

Casting his vote, the mayor said he is ashamed that America has been involved in torture and “wars without justification,” but said he believes sharing information with the FBI will make Portlanders safer.

Hales said two factors changed his mind; the violent attacks in Copenhagen, Paris, and Boston, “where people murdered their neighbors,” and trust in Police Chief Larry O’Dea, whom Hales hand-picked to lead the force. Hales said he believes O’Dea will ensure that Portland officers assigned to the task force do not violate Oregonians’ civil liberties.

“If information-sharing with federal agencies, even ones that have acted badly like the FBI, will give us a chance to save someone’s life, I feel like I am honor bound to take that chance,” Hales said.

Hales voted against joining the JTTF when he served on the City Council in 2001. In theory, Portland has two officers currently assigned to the JTTF on a limited, as needed basis. But members of the council say that the FBI wasn’t comfortable with the arrangement and in effect city officers have not worked with the task force since the city withdrew under Mayor Tom Potter in 2005.

At a hearing two weeks ago, members of Portland’s Muslim community urged the city not to work with the FBI. Those who testified included attorney Brandon Mayfield, a convert to Islam who was arrested by the FBI in 2004 after he was erroneously linked to a train bombing in Madrid.

The ACLU, the Japanese American Citizens League, and the NAACP also opposed Portland’s participation in the task force.

Commissioners Nick Fish and Dan Saltzman voted with the Mayor Thursday in favor of working more closely with the FBI on terrorism cases.

Saltzman, who is Jewish, said he feels a daily sense of insecurity and expressed solidarity with the victims of the recent attacks in Europe. “Right or left, anti-Semitism is alive and well in this world,” he said as he cast his vote.

Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Steve Novick voted against joining the JTTF, citing concerns that the FBI has profiled Muslims and alienated Portland’s Muslim community.

Novick, who received applause for his no vote, read from a letter signed by nine Muslim community leaders and imams.

The letter referred to “gross mishandling of a number of high profile cases by federal authorities affecting Muslims in the Portland area,” and said that the city’s participating in the JTTF could discourage local Muslims from reporting crime.  

“I do not want to take the risk that people will not warn us of real threats because they don’t trust us,” Novick said.

But others in Portland’s Muslim community argued that working more closely with the FBI was the right choice.

Citing the threat posed by recruiters with the group ISIS, Musse Olol,  Chairman of the Somali American Council of Oregon, sent a letter urging the city to join the task force.

One young woman who was recruited by ISIS and has traveled to Syria is a member of his extended family, Olol wrote.