Portland police bureau’s Rapid Response Team has quit and there is no specialty unit left to respond to riots now. These positions were voluntary and the officers who had served on the riot squad will continue in their regular beat patrol duties.
Portland Police Bureau press release a statement:
On June 16, 2021, Portland Police Bureau employees serving as members of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) left their voluntary positions and no longer comprise a team. Its members were sworn employees of the Portland Police who served on RRT in addition to their daily assignment in the Bureau. Despite no longer serving on RRT, they will continue in their regular assignments. There were approximately 50 employees serving as RRT members.
The Rapid Response Team 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. The primary role has been to provide public safety at crowd events when there was a threat of harm to the community.
All Rapid Response Team members are trained in advanced skills related to crowd management and crowd control including crowd psychology and behavior, team formations and movements, the use of enhanced personal protective equipment, use of force, de-escalation, and arrests.
This news was also first reported by KXL:
FM News 101 learned late Wednesday night that in response to the criminal indictment of Officer Corey Budworth, the bureaus entire Rapid Response Team resigned. Sources with the Police Bureau say the team voted unanimously to disband.
The Rapid Response Team is a group of volunteer officers who respond to civil disobedience, demonstrations, and riots.
Tuesday, a member of the team was charged with assault for actions during an August 18, 2020 riot in Southeast Portland.
Wednesday, Portland Police Association Executive Director, Daryl Turner told the Lars Larson Show that he feared officers would quit in response to what he called a “Witch Hunt” of a prosecution. In its investigation, the Portland Police Bureau determined no wrongdoing by the officer. He did not violate training or department rules. He did his job within the scope of the law.
And according to Oregon Public Broadcasting adds:
The resignations came after news this week that one member of the team, Officer Corey Budworth, would face criminal charges for excessive force used during a racial justice protest last year, and that a second Rapid Response Team member, Det. Erik Kammerer is being investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice on similar allegations.
Speaking to OPB on Wednesday, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said his office was still reviewing other use of force cases by officers related to protests, leaving the door open for further criminal prosecutions against RRT members.
In a statement Thursday, the police bureau confirmed the resignations but did not give a specific reason why the officers decided to leave the team.
What disbanding the unit means for the future of how the police respond to protests in Portland remains unclear, but the Rapid Response Team’s deployment during more than 100 nights of protests for racial justice in 2020 was costly. According to city budget figures, Portland police racked up nearly $7 million in overtime in June and July of 2020 alone.
The Portland police bureau did not respond to questions asking how the city would manage events, such as protests, where the Rapid Response Team would typically deploy.
The Portland Police Association, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, has lobbed criticisms at Schmidt’s office this week over Budworth’s prosecution, calling it a political move and saying that Budworth was “caught in the crossfire of agenda-driven city leaders and a politicized criminal justice system.”
Budworth is accused of hitting activist photographer Teri Jacobs from behind with a baton. Several videos of the incident posted to social media show Jacobs with her hands over her head moving away as officers clear a street near the Multnomah Building on Southeast Hawthorne Avenue. An officer in the video, identified as Budworth, hits Jacobs once in the head from behind, and then hits her head again after she falls to the ground.
In February, the city of Portland settled a lawsuit with Jacobs, who was wearing press credentials at the time of the alleged assault, for $50,000.
Portland Police Bureau deputy chief Chris Davis is now trying to flee the mess that his policies helped create, as he has been throwing his name out there for various chief positions in other cities. After Milwaukee and Fresno both turned him away, he has now applied for the open chief job in Akron. According to that Akron Beacon Journal article, the Portland Police Bureau is about 800 officers strong, down from about 1000 available positions, as more and more officers quit the force.