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Gag orders are not unique to the media, social media, and elected officials at the national level. For example at the national level, the Biden Department of Homeland Security has placed a gag order on Border Patrol agents and has forbidden ridealongs for journalists. Gag orders occur at the local level as well.
A Portland police commander was captured on video at a neighborhood meeting in January telling Southeast Portland residents, if they wanted to reduce crime, they should vote the Multnomah County district attorney out of office.
“Part of it is the DA’s office that is failing to prosecute some of these cases, like the riots,” Hurley said. “When you come out publicly and say, ‘I will not prosecute anybody who does property damage, who does minor crimes,’ why wouldn’t you come and do that in the city of Portland? If you go to Washington County, they’re going to prosecute you. If you go to Clackamas County, you might not see outside of jail for a week.”
East Precinct Commander Erica Hurley wore her full uniform—including badge and gun—to a Jan. 14 meeting of an anti-crime neighborhood group in Lents. She attended the event during work hours on behalf of the Portland Police Bureau, says bureau spokesman Lt. Greg Pashley.
Residents of Portland can see what Portland is becoming, but seeing is not enough. You must let them hear, and be heard no matter how inconvenient that may be.
Bureau Directive 313.20 prohibits officers from using their “official authority or influence”—for example, wearing their uniform or using their official title—while engaging in political activity, which it defines as activity “directed toward supporting or opposing federal, state, or local measures, candidates, recalls, political committees, or petitions.”
J. Ashlee Albies, a Portland civil rights lawyer, reviewed a portion of the Lents meeting footage. She says city policies and state laws relating to political activity are in place so public employees don’t create the impression that they are speaking on behalf of the city.
“A uniform is, you are literally cloaked in the authority of the state or of the city,” says Albies. “Those statements are deeply concerning, and they sound very much like she is encouraging people to vote against the district attorney when he comes up for election.”
“Deeply concerning” is the fact that the mayor, city council, and the district attorney see policing as a political tool to achieve political goals. Commander Hurley is not running for mayor.
Politicizing policing to satisfy advocacy groups has provided well over 100 nights of violence in Portland. Politicizing policing has led to a 15 million dollar reduction in the Portland Police Bureau budget. Politicizing policing has eliminated the Gun Violence Reduction Team, and the result has been around 200 shootings in 2021.
The truth hurts, literally hurts, but it must be heard. Elected officials solicit support from members of the PPB, and reward those that support them, and punish those who don’t.
“Deeply concerning” really means that Commander Hurley doesn’t share their vision. A vision that is destroying the City of Portland.
Hurley, a 26-year veteran of the bureau who oversees one of the city’s three police precincts, declined comment through a spokesman. The bureau says it has reviewed the video, but declined to say whether it had triggered an internal affairs complaint. “Members can express themselves at meetings commensurate with their rank, experience, assignment and scope of work,” says spokesman Pashley, “and should adhere to bureau directives.”
Commander Hurley spent 70 minutes with a neighborhood group that does not have the official blessing of city hall. She explained her view of the problems in Portland, listened to their concerns, and answered their questions. Commander Hurley didn’t conduct a press conference. She took the time to speak to those that will not be heard in city hall, the DA’s office, or the media.
Commander Hurley hasn’t been punished, yet.