PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland City Council has voted to withdraw the city from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's anti-terrorism task force, citing a deep distrust in the program's ability to root out terrorism while upholding the civil rights of residents.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Commissioners Amanda Fritz, Chloe Eudaly and Jo Ann Hardesty voted in support and Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Nick Fish opposed.
Aside from the Portland Police Bureau, the FBI told NewsWatch 12 that it still has full Joint Terrorism Task Force partnerships with the following agencies in Oregon:
- Clackamas Co. Sheriff’s Office
- Washington Co. Sheriff’s Office
- Port of Portland
- Oregon State Police
- Homeland Security Investigation
- Customs and Border Protection
Membership in the Joint Terrorism Task Force gives select Portland law enforcement officials access to federal agencies' information about potential terrorist activities.
Wheeler said the in-or-out decision didn't take into account commissioners' ability to modify their agreement.
Fritz, Eudaly and Hardesty said they weren't convinced membership was to Portlanders' benefit.
Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon Renn Cannon said the FBI will continue to partner formally with other task force members as well as informally with other cities and counties.
Federal authorities quickly voiced their reaction to the city's decision:
"Robust discussions about law enforcement's role in our society are valuable. Recognizing the fears that exist in the community, we will continue to visit with community leaders and work together to keep Oregon safe while addressing those factors that can drive a wedge between us.
"I want the people of Oregon to know that the men and women of the FBI do their work with the utmost respect for and adherence to our shared Constitutional protections that allow us to speak, gather and worship freely no matter who we are or where we come from. I thank them for the work they do every day, and I thank the Portland Police officers who have joined us the past few years for their work in keeping our shared community safe." — Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon
"The decision to withdraw the Portland Police Bureau from the Joint Terrorism Task Force is a mistake that defies logic. It’s disappointing that in spite of the overwhelming evidence presented of JTTF successes in Oregon and across the nation, a majority of the city council chose a politically-expedient broadside against the federal government over the safety and well-being of their constituents. The law enforcement community’s duty and commitment to ensuring public safety and protecting civil rights will not be deterred by the politics of the moment." — Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon