Portland, OR – Portland Fire and Rescue has banned all law enforcement agencies from using any of its 31 stations to prepare for tactical operations.
The directive was given by Portland Fire Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who demanded on July 18 that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler hand command of the city’s police force over to her if he wasn’t going to force officers to scale back their responses to the nightly riots that have been plaguing the city for nearly two months, Willamette Week reported.
“Mayor Wheeler, if you can’t control the police, give me the Portland Police Bureau,” Hardesty declared in her letter to the mayor, according to Willamette Week.
“You are putting our community in danger. You are putting my staff in danger. We need you to be better,” she wrote.
Wheeler reject her request and opted to retain oversight of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB).
“I will continue to serve as police commissioner through this time of transformation,” Wheeler said in a statement on Monday, according to Willamette Week. “And I will continue to work with elected leaders from the county and the state to ensure that we are examining the criminal justice system as a whole.”
Portland Fire and Rescue announced at approximately 7:30 p.m. on July 20 that the city’s police force is no longer welcome at any of its stations, Willamette Week reported.
“Recently, a story has been circulated that federally contracted law enforcement agents have been using Portland Fire & Rescue stations as staging areas for operations against demonstrators,” the fire department said in a statement. “PF&R would like to make it very clear that these federal agents were not, and will not ever be, allowed to use fire stations for their tactical operations.”
“To ensure that there is no confusion in regards to our role in providing safety to the residents of the city of Portland, Fire Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has directed that no PF&R station will be used by law enforcement of any kind, to include Portland police, for any tactical operations until further notice,” the statement read.
The fire department noted that the PPB’s Rapid Response Team (RRT) has historically been permitted to stage personnel at fire stations for pending tactical operations, Willamette Week reported.
“This will no longer be allowed,” Portland Fire and Rescue reiterated.
The PPB released a statement about the policy change within an hour.
“The Portland Police will continue to proudly serve with the brave men and women of Portland Fire & Rescue,” PPB Chief Chuck Lovell said in the statement. “We work together every day, placing our lives in each other’s hands to serve the community and will continue to do so.”