(The Center Square) — Just days before the November general election, Portland leaders say they are planning for unrest after ballots are counted, but details are scarce.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said on Thursday that there are no known threats his office was aware of.
“Any violence before or after the election will not be tolerated,” Reese said. “We are stepping up visible patrols at ballot drop of location and election headquarters to ensure people feel safe.”
Mike Schmidt, Multnomah County’s District Attorney, encouraged everyone demonstrating in the coming week to show respect for others.
“We won’t tolerate any attempts to intimidate voters,” Schmidt said. “For those who incite violence or harm, my office will hold you accountable.”
Schmidt announced this summer that his office is not pressing charges against any protester accused of crimes unrelated to property damage or people.
According to Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell, the city’s officers will be putting a rain check on vacations and placing more boots on the ground.
“Right now we’re working very hard to make sure we have the resources, personnel wise and infrastructure in place,” Lovell said. “We’re prepared to work together and do everything we can to ensure the election time in Portland is safe.”
Lovell has railed against the Portland City Council’s currently tabled budget cuts to the PPB, which he claims could see 100 officers across multiple divisions laid off.
Superintendent Terri Davie reported on Thursday that Oregon State Police would be participating in election policing in Portland and wherever they are needed. How many state troopers that will involve, Davie did not say.
It is still largely unknown which law enforcement agency will be leading policing efforts on November 3.
Lovell did confirm that the PPB will not be using tear gas per Mayor Ted Wheeler’s ban on the practice from September. Using tear gas is still legal for all other law enforcement agencies in the state.
Davie said on Thursday that tear gas remains “something the state police have the ability to deploy.”
Earlier this month, Wheeler met with the PPB, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and representatives from Gov. Kate Brown’s office to work on a unified command plan for election night.
Prospects of election night unrest comes after months of protests against police brutality in Portland, street brawls between far-right demonstrators and anti-fascists, and a deadly shooting at a September Trump rally.
Nationwide criticism has been leveled at Wheeler for his handling of the city’s months-long violence between police and protesters.
He is running for reelection against Portland educator Sarah Iannarone who took him to court earlier this month over alleged campaign finance violations.
Recent polling shows the two neck and neck amid a large batch of undecided voters despite Iannarone’s previous 11-point lead this past summer.
This article was initially published at TheCenterSquare