Portland police continue not to name officers who use guns on the job, citing threats

Portland Police cordon off a neighborhood after an officer shot and killed 30-year-old Alexander Tadros while assisting the Drug Enforcement Agency on August 27, 2021 in Portland, Oregon.

Jonathan Levinson/OPB

The Portland Police Bureau this week extended a pattern of not naming officers who used their weapons on the job, citing continued and unspecified threats against those officers as the reason for the deviation from standard policy.

Although the bureau did not provide any details or evidence of the threats, it announced on Wednesday that the FBI would investigate the potential danger to officers.

The abrupt shift to less transparency first occurred on July 29, when a press release from the police bureau announced that the agency would not release the name of an officer on the squad. targeted intervention that had shot and killed someone two days earlier.

“PPB has determined that there are credible threats to the safety of the officers involved in the recent shootings and, therefore, PPB is withholding the name of the member involved pending the investigation into the doxing,” the statement read.

The statement said the officer’s name may be released after the investigation. Police bureau officials declined requests for additional information at the time. Police have also never publicly identified the person killed in that shooting, which is also a departure from standard procedure in past police shootings. The Oregonian/OregonLive later reported that the person killed was 40-year-old Aaron Stanton.

After another Targeted Intervention Team officer shot someone on Monday, the bureau said the FBI is investigating the threats against the officers and the officers’ names will continue to be withheld until the end of the investigation, when “the security threat will be reassessed”. Portland said a sergeant and two officers were involved in Monday’s shooting during a confrontation with 49-year-old Robert Connelly. Connelly, who police say pointed a gun at officers, was not injured.

Portland Police Bureau guidelines require that the names of officers involved in the use of lethal force and deaths in custody be made public within 24 hours “in the absence of a credible threat to security.” The police office declined a request for an interview and did not explain who made the decision not to release the officers’ names or how it interpreted the directive.

Dan Handelman, of police watchdog group Portland Copwatch, said the bureau claimed a broad and continuing security threat while the directive only applied to the officer involved in the specific incident.

“They cannot claim an ongoing security threat based on officers not involved in the incident,” Handelman said.

A spokesperson for the FBI’s Portland office said Friday that the agency could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation into the alleged threats, which is consistent with FBI policy.

Speaking to KATU on July 29, Special Agent in Charge Kieran Ramsey, who heads the Portland field office, said the FBI was aware of the threats against Portland officers.

“It’s not right, it’s just not right to see the names of these officers being released and then immediately they’re being doxed, they’re being harassed to a level that continues this overall community safety concern,” Ramsey said on TV. station.

The flip-flop in releasing officers’ names comes as Portland police continue to rack up incidents of lethal force. So far they have shot six people this year, killing three. The Targeted Response Team, one of Portland’s latest efforts to reduce high levels of gun violence, was involved in three of those shootings. In an incident on May 6, four officers from the 12-man team were involved in a shooting during a traffic stop. Police say Matthey Leahey, 36, exchanged gunfire with officers and suffered life-threatening injuries. Leahey survived and faces a charge of attempted first-degree murder, among other allegations.

After an investigation into the May 6 shooting, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt concluded the shooting was justified and declined to charge the officers.

The Portland Police Bureau has previously attempted to withhold the names of officers due to unspecified threats against them. During the 2020 racial justice protests, the bureau allowed officers to use numbers on their uniforms instead of name tags. A judge overruled that policy and eventually forced the bureau to release the officers’ names and their corresponding numbers.

Threats against law enforcement are part of a growing national trend that has placed several professions in the crosshairs of an increasingly extreme population turning to violence or threats of violence to address grievances. Doxxing and threats of violence against teachers, librarians, election officials and journalists have become more common in recent years and in several cases have led to physical assaults.

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