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Talking Beat - Chief Lovell and Officer Jackson Media Event

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Chief Lovell and Officer Jakhary Jackson talked with the media about recent protests. Officer Jackson discussed what it has been like to be a person of color and a Rapid Response Team member during this difficult time.

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Announcer:
Welcome to Talking Beat the podcast for the Portland Police Bureau. We're focusing on thoughtful conversations that we hope will inform and provide you with a small glimpse of the work performed by Portland police officers, as well as issues affecting public safety in our city. Here's what's on today's show.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I've been called on calls the N-word I can't even count in the time that I've been a police officer and having White officers jump in and defend me and telling me, "Oh ignore it." And them being absolutely shocked and they get to see it. And you don't even know what I've dealt with, what these White officers that you're screaming at, you don't know them. You don't know anything about them and there are racist people out in the world. Absolutely. There are bad cops. We don't associate with those people. They make us all look bad. That's not something that I stand for. That's not something that my coworkers stand for.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Good afternoon. I'm Lt. Tina Jones, a public information officer with the Portland Police Bureau. We're here today to provide a media engagement opportunity with Chief Chuck Lovell and Officer Jakhary Jackson.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Hi, Chief. Thanks for being here today.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Lt. Tina Jones:
No problem. You're just under a month as a police chief and a lot has been going on in that timeframe and we just wanted to take a minute and provide some information to the public and to the media.

Lt. Tina Jones:
A couple of days ago you had the opportunity to go out and visit some of the business owners and community members in downtown and I was hoping that you could share a little bit about what that experience was like.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
Sure. Yeah, a couple of days ago some members of my team and I decided to go downtown, walk around, just talk with folks. We stopped into several local businesses that have been impacted both by COVID-19 but also by some of the damage, graffiti and things that have been going on nightly downtown also. So listening to their stories, hearing their concerns was very impactful to me. I talked to one business owner who'd been in business in downtown Portland for over 50 years and he relayed to me some of the stuff he'd been dealing with. And not just the pandemic. His store was broken into and a bunch of his merchandise was stolen, but he also had some personal tragedy in his family that impacted him this year. It was definitely an opportunity to hear those stories and it has an impact on you when you're a public servant and you're responsible for public safety when you hear that people are struggling and they're having difficulties running their businesses and keeping their livelihoods intact.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Along those lines, there's been a lot of focus on the demonstrations and police response, but what are some of the broader impacts across the city as a result of these events from the public safety lens?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
One of the things that it's important to remember is when we have to draw on resources from the precincts to come downtown and help with the demonstration, it leaves people in the community who call 911, it diminishes the service we're able to provide. There's long wait times. Generally speaking, we're down to priority ones or twos only, so just life safety, life emergency-type calls. And folks have to wait. That's really tough when you have to balance that very limited resource at night to still do the mission downtown but also to answer calls for service when people really need us when they're calling.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
We've been using a lot of resources from our detective division to help with field arrest and processing of some of the arrests. A lot of those detectives have caseloads that don't go away so as they're spending time assisting, their caseloads are stacking up and people are waiting for their investigations to get done and things of that nature. So it has a broader impact on just police services versus just what's happening downtown on a nightly basis.

Lt. Tina Jones:
So obviously not all of your time in the last few weeks has been focused solely on the demonstrations, although that's taken a lot of time, but other key issues. Can you update us on any changes that you've made in the last several weeks or changes that have happened within the police bureau?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
Sure. There's been a few. I'll start with the equity manager. I brought the equity and inclusion office back under the chief's office. I think equity work is some of the most important work we do internally and I really wanted to have that lens spread across a lot of the divisions of the police bureau. So where it was positioned before, I didn't think that was best suited to do that, so I wanted that underneath the chief's office to give that work a more broad look at the organization so we can look at a lot of our practices and policies from an equity lens.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
The loss of the gun violence reduction team in particular has a diminishing effect on how we're able to investigate shootings, which is some of the most important crimes that we investigate. So we still have to do that work and figuring out how we're going to do that without the experience that that team had has been a bit of a challenge.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
We had some impacts to our personnel division. We laid off some background investigators and cut our recruitment team. That has a grave impact on our ability to bring in new folks and diverse folks. I mean some of the hiring we've done lately has been some of the most diverse folks we've brought in in a lot time. And they'll have a real heart for service. They're coming into this profession at a time where you really have to be dedicated to do some really important service to the community and those folks are really geared towards that.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
The other thing is when you do cut your hiring, it creates kind of a lag too because now we have retirements coming up in August, but a lot of the folks who we've brought on still have to go to academy and they're about 18 months from being able to really be on the street answering calls too.

Lt. Tina Jones:
I want to touch back on something you talked about, but this is a shocking number. We've had 29 shootings since July 1 this year and that's compared to eight in the same timeframe last year. So 262% increase. Now that the gun violence reduction team is disintegrated, what happens to those calls?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
We still have to investigate those calls. A lot of the initial work is going to fall on patrol and then the calls that need follow up and investigation will get transferred to the detective division. But not having that resource is concerning. It remains to be seen what those numbers are going to trend to, but I'm fearful that that will have an negative impact on communities of color, especially.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
We had one the other day where a couple different residences were hit by gunfire. We had one last night where a vehicle was hit with children inside and those are really alarming because it reminds you of how close you come to having a serious injury or a death too. The rise in these shootings are very, very alarming.

Lt. Tina Jones:
I know you've been speaking with and meeting with a number of community partners as you've been able in the past several weeks. Can you summarize some of those conversations or the key takeaways?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
Yeah. I love being out in the community and talking to folks. I've had the opportunity to talk to folks just frankly about how they feel about what's going on in the city and in the nation. I really want to highlight the fact that there have been a lot of folks in the community who've been out marching peacefully having messages of peace, sharing their wants and desires for police reform and police connection within the community. And I really want to make sure that we highlight that too because that's a voice that we're hearing and a voice that we need to hear.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
And I think a lot of people are supportive of the police, too. They want good policing and to do that, they need a police force that they can trust, one that they have some connection to. But I've heard from the community that they really want some changes. They want some changes that are going to be beneficial and sustainable and lead to better outcomes for people in the long run.

Lt. Tina Jones:
So we didn't touch on it, but one of the changes the community engagement theme is one of the recent changes. Can you touch on that and the decision making behind that?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
I've always thought for a long time the police bureau said, "Community engagement is super important to us. It's one of our number one priorities." But for the longest time we've only really had one full-time person working in community engagement. So I've always felt like if it's that important, we need to put more resources towards it and when I came into this position, that was one of the first things I did and then we opened up a posting for some positions and we got a lot of great people who put in and were interested in doing the community engagement. At that point I was "Why don't we seize this opportunity and why don't we expand this unit to probably what's the more appropriate size and have those folks actually working full time?" And then even some detached folks that we added to do community engagement because I think it's that important. And if it's important, then we have to reflect that with resources.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
I just want people to know that we're working hard for public safety. We're doing the best we can with our limited resources to keep people safe. That's officers, that's community members. And I also want to take this opportunity to highlight families. Officers have been coming to work for the last several weeks under very different and challenging circumstances and it's had an impact on them and their families and I just want to take this opportunity to thank the families for supporting officers and let them know that the conditions they've worked under and the professionalism that they've shown over the last several weeks is commendable and that I'm proud of them.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Thank you, Chief.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
You're welcome.

Lt. Tina Jones:
And now we're going to have Officer Jakhary Jackson and he's going to talk a little bit about his perspective. We've had a lot of interest in hearing about what it's been like for an officer and how these events have impact specifically our African-American officers. So Officer Jackson is here to provide his perspective and we really appreciate you taking the time.

Lt. Tina Jones:
First can you share a little bit about yourself and how and why you became a Portland police officer?

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I've got a lot of family here in Portland. Both sets of my grandparents lived on Cleveland between Alberta and Skidmore so I didn't directly live in the City of Portland, but all my family was here and I was always at my grandparents' house all the time growing up. That's how my parents met.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
That being said, I went to school. I graduated from Portland State University in 2008. I worked at Nike for 10 years before I became a police officer here. I wanted to make the most out of my life by helping others. The people that I know, people I care about, I wanted to give them the service that they deserve. Not that it's just a job, but you could change people's lives. You don't even know just by giving somebody a hug that is having the worst day of their life. You see it.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
You also see a lot of other bad things where I've seen people die right in front of me. And there was nothing I could do. Maybe if I got there a little bit early and I know a lot of officers feel that way. Just hearing that call come out over the radio and you know people are in trouble and need help and you just see officers, even if they're not getting dispatched, but just attaching. They're just going and trying to help when other people are running. That says a lot.

Lt. Tina Jones:
What kinds of assignments have you had at Portland Police Bureau?

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I've been on patrol. I'm almost going on 10 years now, but I also had the opportunity to be on our rapid response team, on a neighborhood response team that just right now is not currently active due to the cuts. I was on the COAB for a couple of years which was the Community Advisory Board. So I've got to do a few things and in a short amount of time.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Can you tell us a little bit about the rapid response team? That's one of the crowd management teams, correct?

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
Yes.

Lt. Tina Jones:
So that's been the capacity you've been out in in recent weeks.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
Yeah.

Lt. Tina Jones:
At the demonstrations. What was it like in that capacity in the first few weeks when the fence was up around the Justice Center for that RRT response?

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I'll say this, I got to see folks that really do want change like the rest of us that have been impacted by racism and then I got to see those people get faded out by people that have no idea what racism is all about. Never experienced racism. They don't even know that the tactics that they are using are the same tactics that were used against my people and they don't even the history. They don't know what they're saying. Coming from someone who graduated from PSU with a history degree, it's actually frightening on how they say if you don't know your history, you'll repeat it. And watching people do that to other people just because of what they decide to do with their life.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
A lot of times someone of color, Black, Hispanic, Asian come up to the fence and directly want to talk to me. "Hey, what do you think about George Floyd? What do you think about what happened about this?" I go up to the fence, someone white comes up, "F the police. Don't talk to him." That was the most bizarre thing because I could see it coming. I even had a young African-American girl tell me, "Why is it you guys aren't talking to us?" I said, "Honestly, this is now the 23rd day of doing it, every time I try to have a conversation with someone who looks like me, someone white comes up and blocks them and tells them not to talk." And then right when I said that, this White girl popped right in front of her and she said, "He just said that was going to happen." I said, "I told you." She looked at the girl, "Why'd you do that?" Straight up, I said, "I've been called the N-word. She's been called the N-word. Why are you talking to me this way? Why do you feel that she can't speak for herself to me? Why is it that you feel you need to speak for her when we're having a conversation?" And she couldn't answer my question. All she said was, "Someone told me to do it."

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
That has been a very strange thing to watch. I'm cool with people feeling like they want to help a movement, but then when you go too a gentrified community and one of the first pictures I saw of one of the businesses looted was a black-owned business I'm "They're not even from here. They don't even know what they're even doing." That to me was very angering, watching a business that was looted and that business is across the street from a Safeway where before my father became a police officer here in Portland, he worked security at that Safeway. Talk about history and roots. And these folks don't even know what they're doing.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
It's divisive. It's hurting the community and I saw that press conference. Clearly the community was not happy with that and they even asked for the violence to stop and they still are coming out and having these violent interactions with other citizens, the police and at some point you just go, "What is the end goal?" Bloody Sunday, Selma. Those folks marched because they wanted the right to vote. They legitimately were beaten in the street for civil rights. To have rights that they were told they couldn't have because they were not even human and then having folks screaming and yell that they're being peaceful protestors. But you're not peaceful because it is violent.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I actually had a cousin who went to one of the marches and he left and he said, "This has turned into something else. This is weird." So having an African-American male marching and then leaving...like I said, it's been very eye opening. But I did have great conversations. I met two young brothers who were literally after I had taken explosives, I'd been hit with a full beer can, a rock in my chest, frozen water bottle had hit me. I met two young brothers that were out cleaning up the street. They had two garbage bags and they were just running and cleaning up. A few of us from my team who went over and we had to shake their hands. I was so moved by them and so impressed and they said, their words, "We're from here. This is our city. I don't understand why people are coming here and destroying it. And we want to clean it up."

Lt. Tina Jones:
There's been highs and lows. I know you and I were talking the other day and you were sharing just some of the hateful and racist things that you and other officers of color have been subject to and I was just floored. But I think that's some of the stuff that people haven't been seeing or hearing and we work very hard within our agency to try and recruit and retain a diverse population of officers. Can you share a little bit about that experience?

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
It says something when you're at a Black Lives Matter protest. You have more minorities on the police side than you have in a violent crowd. And you have White people screaming at Black officers, "You have the biggest nose I've ever seen." You hear these things and you go, "Are they going to say something to this person?" No. And that's just one example.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
Having people tell you what to do with your life. That you need to quit your job. That you're hurting your community, but they're not even a part of the community. Once again, you, as a privileged White person telling someone of color what to do with their life.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
You don't even know what I've dealt with, what these White officers that you're screaming at, you don't know them. You don't know anything about them and there are racist people out in the world. Absolutely. There are bad cops out there in the world. We don't associate with those people. They make us all look bad. That's not something that I stand for. That's not something that my coworkers stand for and I've been called on calls the N-word I can't even count in the time that I've been a police officer and having White officers jump in and defend me and telling me, "Oh ignore it." And them being absolutely shocked and they get to see it.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
Like I said, when you're standing on the line and they're getting called those names and they're being accused of being racist when you've seen those officers helping people of color, getting blood on them trying to save someone's life that's been shot. Gang violence, domestic violence and you see them and they're truly trying to help save someone's life and then are turned around and called a racist by people that have never seen anything like that. That have never had to put themselves out there. It's disgusting.

Lt. Tina Jones:
One of the images that stands out for me was an image that Dave Killen, a photographer from The Oregonian took and I believe it was published June 3 so it was about the fourth day into this. I saw this image of four officers with this huge explosive firework, one of the big ones, exploding in the midst of our officers. When I first saw it, I cried because I thought, "Thank God nobody died." And then I found out who some of the officers were and one was you and one was one of our sergeants who's also African-American. To me, that image stood out because the demonstrations are for Black Lives Matter and two of my colleagues who are African-Americans are standing there and nearly died. Can you share a little bit about that incident and what happened and kind of what your thoughts were?

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I'll say this, there's this thing if you're a Black cop, you're not Black. I take this uniform off and I'm suspicious. I look like someone that these people would then call the police on. I have been, when I was young, at a party and I got jumped by a group of White people. Me putting this uniform on does not erase that history that I've had.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
So when I had that explosive thrown at me, I saw it. I thought it was maybe just a little firework or something like that and then I realized that something was wrong. You see a flash. I didn't even see a flash. I just felt it and it was hot. I felt tingling in my fingertips. It was a very powerful blast and to think that someone has that much anger and hatred when they don't even know someone to throw something like that and just not care, it's sad. It really is.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
But yeah, it went off and all I remember was feeling it and then I felt a fire medic. Their jobs are if we catch on fire, they grab us by our shoulders and pull us back and they'll put us out. All we're supposed to do is cover our face, keep our airway open in case we do catch on fire. I felt that blast. I had a gas mask on so I couldn't see that well and just felt these hands grab my shoulder and I was "Oh, I'm hurt. I don't even know what just happened. I must be messed up." They said that they were 10 feet behind me and felt the blast and they just didn't know what had happened to me.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I feel lucky that I didn't get seriously injured, but I was told that people were taping marbles and rocks to these explosives and so you just don't know what it is that you're going into when these things are flying at you in the air. The nights where it's dark, you can't see what's coming at you and what it is. Is it a rock? Is it an explosive? How long did the person hold it that it was lit where it could just go off at any minute while you're just standing there?

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I remember a night where I was holding my stick in my hand and I was looking at one of the forensic folks mess with a camera and this big rock just came and hit my stick from the dark right between us. I ended up grabbing her and pulling her back behind a car. She didn't even see it. I mean if that had hit her in the head, that would have killed her. Like I said, the rocks were dark. It was dark out and so it was truly a terrifying experience. Like I said, just not knowing what could happen to the person next to you.

Lt. Tina Jones:
I want to shift gears a little bit. All this stuff is very intense, but there's been so much intensity out there night after night for weeks and weeks on end. It's hard, I think, to capture in words some of the emotion and some of the experience.

Lt. Tina Jones:
So we have some exciting news because you are one of the officers who was selected to be one of the new community engagement officers and I want to just get your thoughts on that and what you hope for in this new and exciting assignment.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I am so excited because what I had fun doing on patrol was getting to know people. So I got to know so many people over almost 10 years of time and joking with them, laughing with them, doing silly stuff with them, dancing, whatever. And getting to know them on a personal level where they could talk trash to me. I could talk trash to them. It was funny and just having that good of a bond with people in the community.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
This new position, I am so excited to bring all these people from the community. Actual community members and have them help us with this change because I think that's what the misconception is. It's that we don't want to be better. We don't want to see change. I already know what the problems are. We already know what things we need to improve. I'm excited to hear from people that are creative from the community that have ways that they want to see problems fixed, solutions. And so that, to me, is really exciting.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I'm really happy to step out of my comfort zone which has been the street and look at my job in a different light and just bring great people that I've got to know, family members, friends and like I said, people from the community, ministers from the churches and all just come together as one. I think I would love to see Pastor Hennessy lead a march with officers down to these protests and show these kids what a peaceful meaningful protest looks like. Where we march together and show them what it looks like together. That would be something to see.

Lt. Tina Jones:
So a theme of togetherness, community, solutions. I'm really excited about all of that.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I am too.

Lt. Tina Jones:
We'll open it up for questions. So we may, depending on who the question is for, I'll have you step off and then we'll alternate here.

Keaton:
This is Keaton with KATU.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Hi, Keaton.

Keaton:
I guess the other question I have for you is just you kind of touched on this earlier, but I wanted you to, we hear vastly different stories from the police and then the protest side. At least I think that's in some cases. Can you describe to me what your reaction too is to what some protestors have to say about the officers? I wonder if I could hear that again. Again, you kind of described it, but we just hear two different stories a lot at these protests.

Keaton:
We hear stuff, like he's talking about sharing and wanting to talk to people at the protests while protestors are talking about how they're just getting teargassed and pushed back and stuff like that. So just talk to me about the difference in the stories that we're hearing.

Lt. Tina Jones:
I think it's important to note that we're talking about almost 40 days or so-ish of demonstrations. Some of them we've had multiple demonstrations every night and each of them is different. So I just want to kind of frame that we've had the huge demonstrations with over 10,000 people throughout the city where we've had very little or not police interaction. But I believe you were referencing more of the groups that you've interacted with downtown.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
Honestly, it's been ...okay, so when these started off, we weren't out. Our rapid response team were not out there. It's one of those things where once the demonstrations start taking a turn, then that's when we start looking at us even leaving wherever we're staged up at. And then once projectiles and other events where officers that are not RRT are taking projectiles, rocks, bottles, at that point the sound truck comes out and it starts warning the crowd, "Hey, we want the crowd to remain peaceful. Please keep the protest peaceful." And these aren't the exact words, but they'll start warning and letting the crowd know that the tone of the protest is shifting.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
Once we get out there, now the sound truck has already given these warnings. Sometimes it's already escalated to it's an unlawful assembly where we're taking rocks, bottles, other projectiles, people using slingshots and using ball bearings and tennis balls and golf balls and rocks so now it's not peaceful anymore. Some say that's freedom of speech. Like I said, we've had cameras behind our line capture those events. So once it gets to that point, you have so many people, as far as using force and arresting people, you're really trying to get the worst of the worst. You're trying to get the people that are actually throwing objects, that are actually fueling this violent evening and it's all very much, like I said, trying to get the worst of the worst.

Lt. Tina Jones:
I think that was a good point though that you made. You have been part of a more highly-trained team that comes in to provide the crowd intervention if things get back. We have mobile field forces where the patrol officers may come down and hold different positions, but you guys are really the ones if we need to disburse a crowd. You will work with the mobile field forces.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
Yeah and even in those situations where there's been breaks or pauses, I still have been able to have good conversations with people that truly want to ask questions. And I'll them, "Hey, this unfortunately is not the right time to have this conversation." I've given them my name and what precinct I'm out of and "Hey, find me, but right now this isn't safe and if I were you, I would leave because it's just escalating. I don't want you to get hit with something from the back of the crowd because they're trying to throw something at us."

Lt. Tina Jones:
Is there another question for Officer Jackson?

Maxine:
This is Maxine.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Hi, Max.

Maxine:
Hi. Thanks Officer Jackson for taking the time.

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
Hi Maxine.

Maxine:
I just wondered, you mentioned the fireworks that exploded. Were you injured and where did that occur?

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
It's all in a report. That was early on when all the protests started. I couldn't tell you what street or anything, but no, I felt tingling in my fingers. Luckily, I wasn't injured by it. I know another explosive had gone off and injured a Multnomah County deputy. He'd gotten a concussion and then a couple days later he resided. He was a newer recruit so that was unfortunate.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Max, I believe that one was published. I think it was June 3, so it should it have been right before-

Maxine:
Where was that? Do you remember where that was?

Lt. Tina Jones:
I don't. I think Dave Killen took the photograph so he may know.

Maxine:
Okay. The other thing is police have been criticized for firing teargas and less lethal once the riot or unlawful assemblies are declared after objects are being thrown. They've tried to stay back to try to deescalate and not create tension. What are officers talking about in terms of what do you think is needed to be done to stem the nightly clashes?

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
I'll say this, we don't even want to come out. We would love for a demonstration to be peaceful and not even have to be involved. It's a lot of work. It's, like I said, our work, we're pulled off the street and we're not able to take 911 calls. I had a young African-American male while we were, and I don't even remember what night it was because there's been so many, but he walked up to me. He wasn't part of the protest or anything. We were staged far away from the Justice Center and he walked up. He said, "Hey man, I just want to say I'm so upset that you all are here, but if my grandma called the police, there's no one there to help my grandma. That bothers me that you have a group of White people that are throwing a temper tantrum downtown, but if my grandma needs help you all aren't even there to go help her."

Ofc. Jakhary Jackson:
And we don't want to be out there. We would much rather be out there in the community taking 911 calls, helping people, not dealing with the same group of people night after night.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Is there another question for Officer Jackson? Okay. Well, we'll have you step aside. We'll bring the chief up and see if there are any questions for him. Thank you.

Lt. Tina Jones:
All right. Did someone have a questions for Chief Lovell?

Lisa:
Yes, this is Lisa from [inaudible 00:39:46].

Lt. Tina Jones:
Go ahead.

Lisa:
The police's job is to stop the violence with protecting the public as well as the officers. There were shots fired last night in the middle of protestors. The violence keeps escalating. When the question comes down to is it the mayor who's the police commissioner asking you not to stop the violence as soon as it starts? Why is it that you're waiting?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
Well, as it relates to the demonstrations, people have the right to come out and exercise their First Amendment rights, but once criminal activity begins and life safety becomes an issue and folks are in jeopardy, then it turns for us. I mean stopping it early is one thing, but people do have the right to come out and exercise free speech.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
So for us, we have thresholds of unlawful assembly or riot and then in those instances, that's when we can take action.

Lisa:
But can you see if you don't take action earlier that this is just going to continue on week after week if something doesn't change in terms of handling it before it gets to that point?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
Well, that's a tough situation. It's complex because people do have the right to come out, assemble, be upset, voice their displeasure and exercise their First Amendment rights. For us, we have to protect that and honor that and we do. But once things become violent and people start throwing things, damaging property and put life safety at risk, that's when we are put in a position where we can take action or have to take action.

Pat Dooris:
Chief, this is [crosstalk 00:41:50] from KGW. Just wanted to get your reaction to that gunfire last night in the middle of the protest. Does that concern you?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
Yes. Gunfire anywhere in the city concerns me because we're in the business of public safety. Our job is protect people and protect the community and when you have people firing guns indiscriminately where there are crowds, it's just so dangerous and people can get hurt. So that definitely is a concern. For me, trying to manage what are really limited resources, especially late at night to not only answer calls for service, but to protect folks who are downtown, protect my officers. It's definitely a concern. It's the type of thing that keeps police chiefs up at night.

Pat Dooris:

And then just to follow up, do you think that the city council should be more vocal about criticizing the violence that follows the peaceful protests?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
I think from my perspective this isn't just a police problem. This is a community problem, a city problem. Everyone, I think, has a role in speaking out against violence and we're not talking against peaceful protests or people who are even upset and angry voicing their displeasure. But when folks are here just doing extensive damage to city property, to people's businesses, people who are trying their best to eek out a livelihood amidst this pandemic and they're suffering, I think everyone has a role in coming out and speaking out against that.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Another question for the chief?

Sarah:
Yeah. Sarah [inaudible 00:43:37] here with KTTV. You guys mentioned some pretty extreme numbers. 29 shootings since July 1st. And that you guys have limited resources right now because a number of those teams have been dissolved. Is there a message, Chief, that you have for the community? Something you might want to say to folks about how you guys are handling your response to this and investigation into shootings with limited resources?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
Yeah, first and foremost, I want to let people know we are going to investigate those cases. We have detectives. We have officers who will go out and do the initial investigation and canvas on the scene. But we did lose a very valuable resource in the gun violence reduction team. I mean those folks were very good at what they did. They had a lot of knowledge and expertise and a lot of relationships. I think that's the part that's hard to quantify is their relationships with folks. Their ability to talk to folks, get information and do that type of preventive work is sometimes easy to forget or lose.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
But I just want the community to know that we are still investigating those cases. We have limited resources, but they're still important and we're definitely going to do everything we can to hold people accountable who are engaged in that type of violent activity.

Lt. Tina Jones:
We always want their tips, so we need their information too, if they have information to share.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Is there another question for the chief?

Maxine:
Yes, Chief. This is Maxine [inaudible 00:45:19] for The Oregonian.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
Hi Max.

Maxine:
I just want to understand how large this new community engagement team. You had been the captain of community engagement in the past, but now what are you envisioning for this community engagement team? And I think Officer Jackson referenced a neighborhood response team that's not active. I don't know if that's in the precincts or what, but how is that impacted as well?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
Sure. We used to have neighborhood response teams within the precinct to deal with more kind of specific neighborhood issues, drug houses, neighbor complaints, things of that nature. They had a lot of expertise in how to handle those. Now we've had to shift some of those resources back to patrol.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
But the community engagement unit is something that was near and dear to my heart because I had spent a lot of time working and running that piece of it in the community engagement division. But I've always felt like to give it its real importance that we always talked about, we had to resource it properly and we've had one person full time who's been great, but I always felt like we need to do more in that area. So we posted a few positions. We're bringing a sergeant into that unit and I think, was it five officers were hire.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
So five total officers. I think that gives us a more robust capability to actually connect with community, actually oversee some programs that we've wanted to get underway. And even spend some time out in the community. I would love to see those officers spend some time out walking around, visiting community members, visiting stores and different organizations and really kind of getting a pulse for opportunities that we could partner with folks and really just do some really good things.

Lt. Tina Jones:
Is there another question for the chief?

Nick:
Yeah. Hi. Nick Budnick, Portland Tribune.

Nick:
Hey, thanks for the opportunity. Chief Lovell, I heard from a couple of officers talking about sort of the increased sense of alienation from the public as sort of the result of how these last 40 or so days have played out and I wonder do you think that is real? What are you doing to combat that, if so? And how do you think that could affect these officers as they return to their patrol and other jobs and interact with the community?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
That's a good question. I think if you come to any of our facilities right now and you look at them, you'll see the windows are boarded up. They're fortified just to protect them from being damaged. And I think it's kind of a microcosm of the feeling like we're kind of shut in to protect ourselves. So I think there could well be that feeling amongst officers. But I think as we go out in the community, I know this has been my experience, there's a lot of supportive folks who come up to you. Some members of my team and I walk down and visited the mural this week and we just had a lot of conversations with folks who came up to us and asked us what we thought. People from out of town trying to get a sense of what was going on here in Portland.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
And I think it's important to remember that even though there are a small amount of folks that are coming downtown or kind of holding a sentiment that's anti-police to some degree, there are still hundreds of thousands of people in this city who are actually supportive and want to see their police do well and are really hopeful for what the future of policing holds.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
I think the more time we spend outside of our facilities and out talking to the public and engaging, I think the less that feeling has a chance to permeate.

Nick:
Thanks, Chief. Can I add one more follow up?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
Sure.

Nick:
Do you feel hampered in your ability to clear events right now because you came on the job midstream and are there things that you wish you would have had the opportunity to address earlier before the lines had been hardened?

Chief Chuck Lovell:
I'm not sure. I think when I came on it was sudden. It wasn't something I was anticipating. And I knew that there were some things in the works, especially around budget and the demonstrations had been going for some time. I just looked at it personally as an opportunity to serve. My whole life has been about service and it was just an opportunity to serve the community and the police bureau in a different role or position. I just looked at it as a time to come in and help do whatever little bit I could. I've always said I can't do this alone. But I felt like there was an opportunity.

Chief Chuck Lovell:
On the other side of these demonstrations, there's going to be a great opportunity for change, but it has to be well thought out, meaningful, sustainable change. Change that has the potential to have good outcomes for people going forward. I think sometimes when there's a big push for reform or the defund the police campaign, those things kind of grow to a point where sometimes it's easy to make decisions that aren't necessarily as beneficial down the road as they might seem initially. I just want to make sure that as change comes about, it's meaningful, it's well thought out and it's collaborative and it's something that's going to be beneficial to people.

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