On Wednesday night, members of the Portland Police Bureau’s specialized crowd-control unit, the Rapid Response Team, assembled at the Benevolent Association union hall and voted to disband the unit.
The unprecedented move by about 50 officers, detectives and sergeants to disband their own team came a day after a team member, Officer Corey Budworth, was indicted, accused of fourth-degree assault stemming from a baton strike against a protester last summer.
Officer Budworth was charged with misdemeanor assault against a photojournalist covering protesters by the Multnomah County District Attorney. The same district attorney has dismissed cases “in the interests of justice” against approximately 450 rioters who were arrested during 150 nights of nearly continual protests last summer following the death of George Floyd.
Budworth marked the first Rapid Response Team officer to face criminal prosecution stemming from force used during a protest. He’s accused of striking a woman, Teri Jacobs, in the face with a baton after knocking her to the ground on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard after a riot was declared near the Multnomah Building on Aug. 18.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt described Budworth’s baton strike as excessive force that was legally unjustified.
Participation in the Rapid Response Team was voluntary. The members did not resign from the Portland Police Bureau — their action simply means that their primary assignment will once again be as “patrol officers.” But the members of the unit had specialized training, specialized equipment, and extensive experience in various types of crowd-control measures.
This creates serious staffing problems for the Portland Police Bureau. Because Portland experiences almost continual protest activity of some kind, this unit — or parts of this unit — were called out on nearly a nightly basis. Being able to do so meant that other patrol officers did not need to be called away from their normal assignments to the scene of the protests unless the problems were too big for the special until to handle on their own.
Now the police command structure must be prepared to redirect patrol resources to the scene of any protests, which might create situations
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