Portland police chief demands officers stop telling crime victims DA won't prosecute cases

"This undermines our relationship with criminal justice partners and sends the message to the community that the system is unresponsive to their needs."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
In a memo issued earlier this year, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell asked all officers and non-uniformed employees of the Portland Police Bureau to stop telling people that they can’t do anything for victims because soft on crime Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt refuses to prosecute cases.

In the memo, which was sent May 4, but obtained last week by The Oregonian, Lovell wrote, “Many times, these people are supporters of police, but feel disheartened by their encounter. A common theme is that officers are telling complainants that there is absolutely nothing they can do for them, or that the problem is the result of someone else’s decisions.”

He continued, “What is completely unacceptable is telling a community member that you will not take police action because the District Attorney refuses to prosecute cases. This undermines our relationship with criminal justice partners and sends the message to the community that the system is unresponsive to their needs.”

Lovell added, “I am fully aware of the limitations of the social services protective net, and I recognize that officers are often forced to simply put a Band-Aid on a situation rather than truly solve the underlying problem.”

“I want to remind you of why you became a police officer. You raised your hands and took an oath because you wanted to help people. You joined to make a difference in the Portland community and individual lives.”

In March, the union representing Portland’s transit workers called out the progressive district attorney for not prosecuting offenders after assaults on drivers.

The union for TriMet's drivers, ATU 757, said there are hundreds of assaults or attempted assaults against their employees every year, including 170 last year.

At the time, Fred Casey, the union's vice president, told local media, “I am not aware of any of those going to prosecution on an assault charge. As far as I know, the DA's office has either dropped the charges or settled on a plea deal with a misdemeanor of 'interfering with public transportation.'”

He continued, “There’s a stark difference when something happens on a bus out in Washington County or Clackamas County. And the response is quite different than here in Multnomah County.”

“We have zero confidence, zero confidence that Mike Schmidt and his office is going to prosecute these people the way that they need to be prosecuted.”

In 2022 it was revealed that Schmidt was prosecuting less than half of all misdemeanor theft cases referred to his office by police.

In April, the advocacy group People for Portland bought a giant billboard downtown attacking Schmidt depicting his "accomplishments," including record crime, fewer prosecutions, and empty jail beds. The focal point of the advertisement, however, is the catchphrase, "Portland is a Schmidt Show!"

Last month it was revealed that Multnomah County lost over $1 billion in income as high earners fled the area during the lockdowns, riots, and spikes in crime in the first year of the pandemic.
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