Two of the officers involved in the shooting that killed a 48-year-old man in southeast Portland were interviewed the night before by FOX 12 Investigators working on an unrelated story.
Officers Kameron Fender and Andy Polas are experienced members of the Portland Police Bureau’s Gang Enforcement Team.
Polas has been an officer for 14 years, and Fender has 12 years of experience.
During a ride-along with a FOX 12 photojournalist Friday, the officers spoke about the public perception of police around Portland.
“It's certainly a difficult time to be a police officer,” said Fender. “But I can assure you the men and women of the Portland Police Bureau, we're always adapting. We're always going to do our best. And there are areas where we can improve and areas where we can improve our community, and we’re making strides to do that. On the other side, we have a job to do which is to protect this community and lower the violent crime that’s happening, and our unit and our department should be committed to doing that.”
Polas and Fender responded to the shelter where John Elifritz was killed in an officer-involved shooting Saturday night.
The Portland Police Bureau released a timeline of events that preceded the shooting, including Elifritz making false claims that his family had been murdered, multiple 911 calls about Elifritz being armed with a knife, a carjacking and a road rage incident Saturday.
The night before the shooting, Polas explained to FOX 12 that Gang Enforcement Team members often are asked to assist officers on calls that aren’t gang-related, because of department-wide staffing shortages.
“There's definitely not enough of us,” said Polas. “The whole entire police department as a whole is definitely short-staffed for the demands the city has right now, and every department, every special unit on patrol and everyone's running short, so that kind of affects us as well.”
Both officers – along with five other officers and a deputy – have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard PPB procedure in officer-involved shootings.
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