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JTTF report short on details

Police Chief Mike Reese has assured the City Council that his officers are following all state laws and city restrictions during their work with the Portland FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.

The annual report Reese has submitted to the council provides few details of the actual work conducted by the two officers assigned to the JTTF, however. Among other things, it says the officers have worked on an “at least one” investigation over the past year.

The report also describes an investigation as occurring outside the city limits, but it provides no other information about the investigation.

Instead, in the report to be reviewed by the council on Wednesday, Reese says the compliance with state law and city restrictions has been verified by the City Attorney’s Office.

“I have requested the City Attorney to independently question the officers who have worked with the JTTF to verify whether there have been any violations of Resolution 36859 or Oregon law. I received an independent evaluation report from the Office of the City Attorney that Portland is in compliance with Resolution 36859 and Oregon law,” Reese says in the report.

Resolution 36859 was passed by the council over two years ago to authorize city participation in the JTTF. Among other things, it prohibits the officers from working on investigations that do not involve allegations of criminal activity.

Details of the work conducted by the officers is limited in the report to protect the integrity of the JTTF investigations.

“We have committed a very limited amount of bureau resources to JTTF work, so disclosure of the number of cases or hours worked may compromise ongoing investigations and reveal the operational tempo of our work on terrorism,” Reese says in the report.

In the report, Reese says work of the two officers is routinely reviewed by supervisors to assure complained with the resolution. The officers have also been instructed to report whenever they believe the restrictions are being violated.

“Officers who work with the JTTF are aware that they should report directly to the FBI SAC [Special Agent in Charge] and I if ever the work bureau officers are asked to do would be a potential violation or violation of Oregon law,” Rees says in the report.

The assurances are not likely to satisfy critics of the JTTF, such as the ACLU of Oregon and Portland Copwatch. They have repeatedly expressed concerns that the JTTF is spying on law abiding people because of their immigration status or religious or political beliefs.

The report also says the FBI has granted “Secret” level security clearance to Reese, the Assistant Chief of Investigations, the Lieutenant of the Criminal Investigation Unit, and the two officers assigned to the JTTF. According to the report, the FBI defines a “Secret” clearance as "generally the most appropriate security clearance for state and local law enforcement officials that do not routinely work in an FBI Task Force or in a FBI facility."

The report is on the city's website at www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=50265&a=441357