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Portland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to adopt a resolution that directs the Portland Police Bureau to inventory its crowd control munitions, submit written reports to Council, and establish new authorization procedures for the PPB’s acquisition and procurement of military-style equipment.
Historically, the cost and scope of the PPB’s munitions arsenal were not itemized in the bureau’s larger External Material and Services line item—this resolution will ensure that while Council continues to address inequitable policing practices, Council and the public will have additional transparency into what weapons are at the bureau’s disposal and what those weapons cost. “In 1925, the Geneva Protocol banned the military use of tear gas.
As a community, we need to ask ourselves—why have we allowed public servants to use a weapon our military cannot use in war against our own community members?” said Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “The militarization of local law enforcement is harmful to every member of society, and it needs to end. Council action alone cannot address the full scope of munitions use, but what we can do today is provide additional clarity—for the public and for Council—into what munitions the bureau has, how they use them, how much they spend, and how their arsenal affects demonstrators.”
“Community trust is earned and one way we can do that is to have the public conversations regarding munitions this resolution requires,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. “I think we can all agree that more transparency and accountability are good for everyone, especially as it relates to how the city spends its money on use of force towards the public. While we had to strike a balance with the community’s demands and the city’s DOJ settlement agreement requirements, I look forward to working with my colleagues and community members to build on the work of this resolution.”
“Earlier this year, after hearing from community, I started plans for police reform,” Mayor Wheeler said. “This resolution accomplishes one of those items requiring council authorization for militarystyle equipment. It’s consistent with one of President Obama’s 21st century policing executive orders which sought to reimagine public safety in America. Our offices’ work together on this resolution and its unanimous adoption is a great reflection of our collaboration working towards meaningful police reform.” Commissioner Eudaly and Commissioner Hardesty hoped to achieve a broader restriction of munitions that the PPB is allowed to use on unarmed Portlanders, however the terms of the PPB’s Department of Justice’s (DOJ) settlement regarding use of force against Portlanders experiencing mental health crises precluded that effort. “One of the requirements of the DOJ settlement is that all changes to use of force policy have to be approved by the DOJ before they can go into effect,” said Hannah Holloway, Senior Policy Advisor to Commissioner Eudaly and the architect of this resolution.
“Given the contentious relationship between our local values and current DOJ leadership—in addition to the difference of pace with large bureaucratic institutions and community demands for antiracist policymaking—City Council does not have the ability to meet protesters demands through Council action alone. However, I look forward to the ongoing work ahead of us as Portlanders and am hopeful that the next Attorney General will oversee a more functional department that is receptive to local progress.” This resolution requires the Portland Police Bureau to present a report on their inventory of impact munitions, CS gas, OC pyrotechnic, OC vapor, RBDD, and all other crowd control munitions it currently uses or reasonably could use to Portland City Council. It also requires that the Bureau receive Council authorization before purchasing military-style equipment. The Portland Police Bureau will provide its first report on January 27th, 2021.