PORTLAND-- Chief Michael Reese issued a written apology late Saturday afternoon for suggesting last Thursday that a police response to the rape of a teenager was delayed three hours due to Occupy Portland marches.
He created a nationwide social media firestorm after telling KGW in a live interview late Thursday afternoon that police were unable to respond to the rape specifically due to Occupy Portland activists who had flooded downtown Portland that day.
The following day, the bureau revealed that the rape was not an immediate life-threatening situation, and that the call had come Nov. 6. The teen reported that she felt threatened by a boyfriend who had been assaulted her two days earlier.
It was not my intention to mislead people, especially around an incident as serious and sensitive as a reported sexual assault, the chief wrote, I spoke about the incident without knowing all of the details and made assumptions that were not correct. I apologize; I should have gathered all of the information before discussing it publicly.
His apology included introduction of a new approach to interacting with Occupy Portland activists that essentially calls for less of a strong police force presence, and self-policing by Occupy Portland at their events and marches.
Last Friday, his handpicked spokesmen Lt. Robert King and Sgt. Pete Simpson tried to add context to the statement that led to Saturday's apology.
They said the girl was not in danger or near the suspect at the time of the call. At the time, a sergeant said there were only two free cars to respond to emergency calls in Central Precinct and an officer would be back to talk to her as soon as more were available.
The Police Bureau is a very lean organization and when several events are happening at the same time, police resources are often tapped to cover the priority calls while lower priority calls that have no immediate danger must hold until officers are clear and able to respond, a statement read.
Police said at that time officers were also responding to a shooting in Northeast Portland, the attack on a ranger in Forest Park and a severe car crash on NE 82nd.
Central Precinct day shift was at their minimum staffing level, which is 16 officers and 2 sergeants, plus 3 officers strictly dedicated to the Occupy Portland encampments.
I think it's terribly sad that the police would prioritize a peaceful event instead of a rape..that is their job to prioritize those calls, Occupy Portland protester Micaiah Dutt told KGW.