Approximately 50 police officers working for Portland’s rapid response unit resigned this week, a day after a team member was indicted for allegedly assaulting a protester last year.
Participation in the unit was voluntary, and the officers will continue working for the police department in their regular assignments, according to a department press release. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement that the resignations would not impact the city’s policing ability, writing that “The City of Portland has the personnel and the resources to ensure our community’s safety,” CBS affiliate KOIN reported.
On Tuesday, a day before the mass resignations, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced that a grand jury had indicted an officer in the unit, Corey Budworth, on a charge of assault in the fourth-degree.
Schmidt’s office alleges that the officer used excessive and unlawful force during a political protest in August of last year. According to KOIN, Budworth was accused of hitting a freelance photojournalist with a baton. Another officer is also under a state justice department review for his use of force at protests, KOIN reported Wednesday.
The unit met and voted to resign on Wednesday night, KOIN reported. Acting Portland Police Chief Chris Davis told KOIN that the decision was not just the result of the indictment and the review.
“I think that really this is a culmination of a long process and it’s not just an indictment that caused this to happen,” he said. “They’re not feeling like the sacrifice they’ve made necessarily has been understood very well.”
The union representing the officers defended those who resigned, blaming local officials for failing to protect officers during the months of protests and riots that took place in the city.
“If the Rapid Response Team members’ resignation has highlighted anything, it’s that the priorities of our elected officials have failed,” the organization said in a Facebook post.
This is not the first time a group of officers have resigned from a voluntary post after colleagues have been punished. In June of last year, officers in Buffalo, New York, resigned from an emergency response team after two officers were suspended without pay over a viral video showing police shoving a 75-year-old man.
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