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Trump administration was authorized to send federal officers to Portland but lacked comprehensive strategy, DHS inspector general finds

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 4/22/2021 Jeremy Beaman
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The Homeland Security Department was legally authorized to send federal officers to Portland last summer to protect federal property, but they were “unprepared” to carry out their duties due to inadequate strategies, training, and equipment, according to an internal watchdog.

A Friday report from the DHS inspector general offers a sometimes critical assessment of how the Trump administration handled sending hundreds of federal officers to the Oregon city during a period of heightened unrest that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“[Homeland Security] had the legal authority to designate and deploy DHS law enforcement officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and United States Secret Service to help FPS protect Federal facilities in Portland, Oregon,” the report said.

“However, DHS was unprepared to effectively execute cross-component activities to protect federal facilities when component law enforcement officers first deployed on June 4, 2020,” the report added. “Specifically, not all officers completed required training, had the necessary equipment, and used consistent uniforms, devices, and operational tactics when responding to the events in Portland.”

PORTLAND PROTESTERS DISRUPT INVESTIGATION INTO FATAL POLICE SHOOTING OF MAN

The Trump administration sent federal officers from several law enforcement agencies to Portland last summer under the expressed aim of protecting the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse as protests and riots took aim at it and other buildings.

“The Department of Homeland Security is the primary federal agency responsible for the protection of buildings, grounds, and property owned, occupied, or secured by the federal government,” the report said.

Overall, though, DHS lacked a “comprehensive strategy” in Portland, and a number of the officers present hadn’t received the training they needed under law.

Thirty-six of the 222 officers deployed to Portland as of Aug. 7, 2020, had not received a required legal briefing on explaining their authority and jurisdiction, according to the report.

In addition, a number of officers did not have shin guards, face shields, and protective eyewear when in Portland, which contributed to the 689 reported injuries, including eye irritation, blurred vision, headaches caused by laser attacks, and temporary hearing loss and headaches from fireworks and mortars.

Many Democrats were critical of the presence of federal officers in Portland and specifically took issue with some of the officers’ camouflage uniforms and arrest tactics. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to the officers as “storm troopers” in a July 17, 2020, tweet and said they were “kidnapping protesters and causing severe injuries in response to graffiti.”

While the inspector general report said that things such as inconsistencies in uniforms and policies risk confusion and limited coordination, it established that the officers were authorized under law to “make arrests without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in the presence of the officer or agent.”

The inspector general recommended that the agency secretary work with the Federal Protective Service to establish a plan to improve preparedness for responding to future civil disturbances at federal facilities and that the agency develop contingency plans for such incidents, including plans for necessary equipment.

The office of Homeland Security Secretary Alexander Mayorkas concurred with the recommendations, according to a cover letter from Inspector General Joseph Cuffari on Friday.

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Between June 4 and Aug. 31, 2020, 755 DHS officers participated in the protective mission in Portland, and DHS officers made 62 arrests.

Tags: News, Portland, DHS, Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, Riots, Trump administration, Inspectors General, Law Enforcement

Original Author: Jeremy Beaman

Original Location: Trump administration was authorized to send federal officers to Portland but lacked comprehensive strategy, DHS inspector general finds

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