Dear Bureau members:
I want to again thank you all for your patience and professionalism every day since Occupy Portland began on October 6, 2011. I understand this ongoing event draws on our resources every day and has had a significant effect on many Bureau members and their families schedules. I understand and appreciate both your hard work and personal sacrifices that many of you have made.
As all of you know, this movement is occurring all across the country and in fact, the world. Police agencies all across the country are dealing with the same issues that we are. This size and duration of this event is unprecedented in my career and probably yours as well. I know it can be difficult and demanding and all those involved have risen to the occasion, remaining restrained and professional.
The City of Portland and the Portland Police Bureau is on a national stage. Following arrests at Jamieson Square, the Police Bureau's response to the protests was reported on many local and national media outlets, including CNN and the Washington Post. There are significant issues at play, as we attempt to balance freedom of speech and expression with keeping the city safe and traffic moving.
Last night, many of you were involved in the unpermitted march that occurred throughout downtown and across the bridge. The tone of this march seemed to change from previous events, and many in the crowd seemed confrontational provoking motorists and police. Due to the darkness and rain, visibility was limited and marchers posed a significant threat to themselves, police and motorists as they marched in the streets and onto bridges. As you know, a sergeant received an injury after he was pushed into the path of a TriMet bus thankfully, he was not seriously injured in what could have been something far more serious.
Because unpermitted marches pose a significant threat to marchers, police and motorists, incident commanders will have the authority to order appropriate action if marchers are not staying on sidewalks and obeying laws.
As we move forward, we must continue to be prepared. Due to the strain on patrol officers, I am ordering all sworn members to begin wearing their Class C uniforms and duty belts, effective Friday, November 4, 2011. All sworn members will have their gas mask, baton, and helmet immediately available. Exceptions require branch chief approval. All sworn members should be prepared to deploy with their required equipment in a timely manner. I am also reaching out to other agencies, asking for mutual aid agreements for this prolonged event.
In the meantime, we will continue to reach out to protestors to ask for their cooperation for permitted marches. We will continue to work with the Mayor s office to bring about a peaceful resolution that accommodates all people s rights while ensuring the city s public safety needs are met.
Chief of Police