Police union blasts Wheeler after ICE protest reaction
Portland police union president Daryl Turner says Mayor Ted Wheeler has "failed miserably" as police commissioner.
Turner posted a statement on the Portland Police Association website Thursday saying there is no place for "political bias" in day-to-day policing decisions. Although not mentioned specifically, the statement was posted days after Wheeler defended his previous decision to keep police away from the demonstration outside the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Southwest Portland.
The union representing ICE employees has accused Wheeler of preventing police from responding to their calls for assistance during confrontations with protesters. In a letter of response, Wheeler said police were not prohibited from responding to 911 calls, but added he "consistently stated that I did not want the Portland Police Bureau to be engaged or sucked into a conflict for the purpose of securing federal property that houses a federal agency with their own federal police force."
Wheeler has repeatedly said he supported the purpose of the protest but not the camp that formed adjacent to the facility.
During a previous meeting with the Portland Tribune editorial board, Wheeler said there were occasional conflicts between his roles as mayor and police commissioner. He said they were the result of Portand's unique form of government, where the members of the council also oversee city bureaus. Mayors have traditionally assigned the police to themselves.
Here is the complete text of Turner's statement:
As police officers, our primary responsibility and duty is public safety; to ensure our city is a safe place to live, work, and raise a family. If someone calls for help and police are dispatched, we respond, without regard to who you are or where you are from. It makes no difference whether you are a soccer mom, an off-duty police officer, a CEO, or homeless; if you need our help, it is our responsibility to be there.
We appreciate the words of support from Chief Outlaw and continue to look to her for operational guidance on important policing matters. It should be self-evident that a trained, experienced, police executive should be making important, day-to-day policing decisions for our communities and our organization. There is no place for personal, political bias when it comes to providing public safety services to our communities. In that respect, our Mayor, who is also our Police Commissioner, has failed miserably.
As Mayor, Mr. Wheeler can certainly have his own personally held political beliefs. In contrast, as Police Commissioner, he must set his personal political beliefs aside and ensure public safety is his top priority. Politics have no place in the operations of the Portland Police Bureau. If Chief Outlaw's review reveals flawed policy direction from the Mayor/Police Commissioner that includes selective enforcement of our laws, that is certainly problematic and cause for grave concern.
Our Officers protect our communities and enforce the law irrespective of personal, political beliefs. Perhaps that is a lesson for the Police Commissioner.
Daryl Turner, President
Portland Police Association