Both Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said they declined to meet with the acting head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security when he came to Portland Thursday, a visit widely derided by local leaders frustrated over federal law enforcement's use of force against protesters.
But the head of Portland’s police officer union says he took the acting secretary up on his offer to talk.
Daryl Turner said the invitation to meet with acting secretary Chad Wolf came one day before Wolf arrived in Portland. The surprise visit was to tour federal facilities that administration officers say they've dispatched federal enforcement officers to protect.
Turner said he accepted the invite because he wanted to see federal law enforcement work more smoothly with the Portland Police Bureau.
“My main objective was to have them working alongside PPB Chief Lovell in conjunction with and communicating with him and his command staff,” Turner said.
Earlier Friday, Lovell said he could not say with confidence if anyone from the Portland police had met with the acting secretary.
“I do not believe anyone from the police bureau did, but I can't say that for a hundred percent," he said.
Asked by a reporter to clarify what he meant by that, Lovell said: “We have people that fill different roles with different associations and things of that nature that may have received an invite.”
About an hour later, he issued a statement clarifying his remarks and confirming that Turner had met with the federal official.
Turner noted that several other law enforcement agencies in the area had been invited to meetings with Wolf. He said there were three different meetings scheduled and that he was the only member of the Portland Police Bureau in the room at the meeting he went to, which he said had about six people in attendance.
“Everybody discussed different things: my part of the discussion was I hope they would make a connection with PPB and Chief Lovell to coordinate how they work together,” he said.
Turner’s union represents rank-and-file Portland officers, who have been criticized for their own handling of the nightly protests for racial justice in downtown Portland.
In return, the union issued a vote of no confidence against city leaders earlier this month. Turner has said Portland police officers need more support from their elected officials.