PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Members of the Portland Police Bureau's Rapid Response Team voluntarily left their positions on Wednesday, the bureau announced.
The Rapid Response Team (RRT) is an all-hazard incident response team that has received advanced specialized training to respond to incidents requiring higher levels of technical expertise including public order policing, natural or man-made disasters, according to the bureau. The team is also in charge of crowd control during permitted and unpermitted marches and protests in the city. Last year, the team responded to the more than 100 social justice protests and riots that were held nightly throughout Portland following the death of George Floyd.
The bureau says the members of the team were sworn employees who served on RRT in addition to their daily assignment. While they will no longer serve on RRT, they will continue in their regular assignments, according to the bureau. There were about 50 employees serving as RRT members.
"In the long term, we will have to find some way to make sure that we have that capability that the public relies on, and then in the short term, we'll have to find a way to adapt and maintain as much of the capability as we can with the resources that we have," said PPB Acting Chief Chris Davis.
MULTNOMAH COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - A Portland police officer has been indicted by a grand jury fo…
The resignations from the team come after one member, Officer Corey Budworth, was indicted on an assault charge stemming from a use of force incident that occurred during a riot on Aug. 18, 2020. The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office announced the indictment on Tuesday.
Earlier this week, the Portland Police Association called the indictment a "politically driven charging decision," and said it stands by Officer Budworth who "did exactly as he was trained."
Acting Chief Davis says the RRT officers brought up the indictment among other things in announcing their resignation.
"I don’t think it’s just an indictment that caused this to happen. I think it’s a very long complicated history of things that have gone on over the past 14 months," Davis said. "I understand those are complex issues but I also understand their perspective if you put a human being through what they were put through, that takes a toll."
FOX 12 spoke with business owners whose stores have been vandalized during riots and weren't sure yet what this change might mean for them. One business owner says she understands why officers wouldn't want to do this work anymore but also worries there could be more conflict and damage now.
Davis says since RRT officers still work for the bureau they can still be directed to respond to riots. The bureau is looking at adjusting staffing schedules and meeting with other agencies about it.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt released the following statement on Thursday:
"Management and staffing of the Rapid Response Team falls within the purview of the leadership of the Portland Police Bureau. I have confidence that the Bureau will continue their mission to maintain public safety. In the meantime, my office will continue to focus on the fair and just prosecution of criminal matters. We cannot expect the community to trust law enforcement if we hold ourselves to a lower standard."
Mayor Ted Wheeler also released a statement on the resignations:
"Late last night, I learned that the Portland Police Bureau’s Rapid Response Team voted to resign their voluntary service on this crowd control unit.
The City of Portland has the personnel and the resources to ensure our community’s safety. I have directed the Portland Police Bureau to prepare mobile field forces to respond to any public safety needs, including potential violence related to mass gatherings. Also, I have spoken to Governor Brown, and the Oregon State Police is making members of its Mobile Response Team available on standby. We are also coordinating with other regional law enforcement partners.
Resigning members of the Rapid Response Team remain sworn members of the Portland Police Bureau. I want to acknowledge the toll this past year has taken on them and their families—they have worked long hours under difficult conditions. I personally heard from some of them today, and I appreciate their willingness to share their concerns about managing the many public gatherings that often were violent and destructive.
It is my expectation, and the community’s expectation, that the City remains committed to public safety and effective police oversight. City leaders will continue working in partnership with Portlanders, community organizations and police leadership to reform our community safety system."