top of page

City Revives Police Department Protest Response Team

The Portland City Council has approved the formation of a new Public Order Team within the Portland Police Bureau, along with a 6% salary increase for officers joining the team. This move, arising from a bargaining agreement between the city and the police union, aims to bolster "public event management" and "community safety." The team, expected to consist of around 40 members, will undergo 96 hours of specialized training focusing on crowd psychology and effective communication with protesters. 

This initiative follows the disbandment of a previous response team in 2021, after members resigned amid criticisms of excessive force during 2020's racial justice protests. The disbandment and subsequent charges against officers highlighted issues within the department, such as unclear oversight and heavy reliance on tear gas and pepper spray. 

The new team's formation has met with skepticism from residents concerned about past police conduct and the efficacy and accountability of this revamped unit. Paul Frazier, a Portland resident, told the council he had little trust in a department that allowed tear gas to drift into neighboring homes during a 2020 protest.

"How has anything changed?" he said. "How will we measure the success of this team, and what will the accountability look like to City Council and to the citizens of Portland?"

The training and assembly of the team are scheduled to be completed by June, with a focus on addressing past criticisms and adapting to recent state laws on crowd management.

This move risks perpetuating the same patterns of violence and abuse that led to the disbandment of the previous response team amidst widespread criticism of police brutality. The allocation of resources towards reconstituting a specialized unit within police fails to address the root causes of social unrest and reflects a continued reliance on coercive tactics rather than meaningful dialogue and community-based solutions. 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. 


bottom of page