A day after a Portland police officer was indicted for allegedly beating a protester, about 50 officers in the department resigned en masse from a specialized law enforcement unit tasked with responding to protests and civil unrest.
The resignation of the police department’s Rapid Response Team (RRT), took place after a Multnomah County grand jury handed down an indictment Wednesday, charging Officer Corey Budworth with fourth-degree battery. Budworth is accused of shoving photographer Teri Jacobs to the ground and using a baton to strike her during a protest last August — an incident that was caught on video and posted to social media.
Budworth isn’t named in a federal lawsuit filed by Jacobs, which alleges two officers assaulted her: a John Doe 1 who “swung his (baton) like a baseball bat” and Officer 37 who pushed Jacobs with his baton, first while standing and again once she was on the ground.
A law enforcement source said Budworth is the officer who is identified as “officer 37” in a video that was posted to Twitter, and that video is cited in Jacobs’ lawsuit. CNN has reached out to Budworth’s attorneys for comment.
Mobile field forces will be used to fill the gap created by the mass resignation, along with help from other agencies, like the Oregon State Police and regional law enforcement departments, according to Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.
“It is my expectation, and the community’s expectation, that the City remains committed to public safety and effective police oversight. City leaders will continue working in partnership with Portlanders, community organizations and police leadership to reform our community safety system,” Wheeler said in a statement.
Acting Portland Police Chief Chris Davis said the public can expect a similar response to incidents, but in a different way.
In responding to the resignations, Davis said in a press briefing Thursday that they were not just a result of the indictment, but also “tremendous amounts of stress that has been placed on our entire organization and certainly the members or the RRT” through more than 150 nights of unrest in the city.
“Our entire organization, and not even just our sworn staff but also our professional staff in the last 14 months has been put through something none of us have ever seen in our careers and at a level, and an intensity that I don’t think any other city in the United States has experienced,” Davis said, committing to focusing on the staff’s well-being.
Jacobs’ attorney, Juan Chavez disagreed.
“The mass resignation from the Rapid Response Team demonstrates the contempt its members feel for even the possibility that one of their colleagues is held accountable for his actions,” he said in a statement. “The refusal to acknowledge and address this wrongdoing goes to the heart of what’s wrong with Portland Police.”
The Portland Police Department’s RRT, which has undergone advanced training to handle public safety at crowd events and natural disasters, has essentially disbanded, but the officers remain on the force, according to a release from the agency.
Officers, detectives, and sergeants voted Wednesday night to resign as a group following a discussion about concerns from the team. Davis did not go into detail about those concerns, but confirmed the indictment was brought up during the meeting.
“I have confidence that the Bureau will continue their mission to maintain public safety,” Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said in a statement. “In the meantime, my office will continue to focus on the fair and just prosecution of criminal matters. We cannot expect the community to trust law enforcement if we hold ourselves to a lower standard.”