U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy J. Williams expressed disappointment Thursday over Portland’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Terrorism Task Force — a partnership between the FBI and local law enforcement agencies such as the Portland Police Bureau.
“The decision to withdraw the Portland Police Bureau from the Joint Terrorism Task Force is a mistake that defies logic,” Williams, the top federal prosecutor in Oregon, said in a written statement. “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.”
At the Portland City Council meeting Wednesday, when they cast the three votes to withdraw from the task force, Commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty, Chloe Eudaly and Amanda Fritz expressed distrust in the JTTF and its connection to the current presidential administration.
Other metro area law enforcement agencies involved in the JTTF had more neutral views on Portland’s withdrawal.
Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett said his agency would continue to be part of the task force: “Working alongside our federal law enforcement partners is imperative to strengthening our ability to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community.”
The Port of Portland also will keep its officer in the JTTF partnership.
“Our task force officer is our conduit to criminal intelligence related to aviation and aircraft incidents, such as threats to airlines and crimes aboard aircraft,” said Steve Johnson, the Port of Portland’s spokesperson.
Johnson specified the Port of Portland’s task force officer’s duties: “Our task force officer does not work on any immigration matters, and our Port of Portland Police officers are prohibited by state law and department policy from taking investigative and/or enforcement action based on protected status including immigration.”
Both the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Police also have employees connected to the JTTF partnership. Both agencies refused comment.