Portland has been one of the key cities at the center of the debate over policing, Black Lives Matter, and the riots that spread across America.
In fact, Portland’s riots continued for months after the death of George Floyd, even into 2021.
Now, however, Portland’s riot police say they’re have had enough.
Officer Corey Budworth was indicted for allegedly hitting a woman in the head with a baton during yet another riot in August of last year.
In response to the news, the Portland Police Bureau’s Rapid Response Team, which handles public safety in events like riots, all resigned. That means about 50 of Portland’s riot police left in a city that needs them more than almost any other in the country.
From the resigned force:
“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.”
The officers were clearly tired of sustained hostility and pressure after months of an incredibly difficult job.
City leaders shouldn’t be surprised, though. Portland’s Police Association President Daryl Turner warned local leaders in an open letter in October of last year.
“On almost a nightly basis for the past five months, members of RRT have been on the front lines of keeping our city safe as many protest events have escalated into lawless riots filled with looting, arson, property damage, physical violence, and even murder,” the letter said. “But our RRT members do not volunteer to have Molotov cocktails, fireworks, explosives, rocks, bottles, urine, feces and other dangerous objects thrown at them. Nor do they volunteer to have threats of rape, murder, and assaults on their families hurled at them. They do not volunteer to suffer serious injuries, to be subjected to warrantless criticism and false allegations by elected officials, or to suffer through baseless complaints and lengthy investigations devoid of due process.”
How the city will respond to any future riots and keep the peace remains to be seen.
“Our RRT members are exhausted and injured,” the letter continued. “The only glue holding their team together is their integrity and commitment to serve their city. They deserve better.”