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Clackamas County Joins Joint Terrorism Task Force

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts announced that the County Sheriff’s Office would join the Portland FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.

“Recent incidents involving both domestic and international extremism make this new partnership timely,” Roberts said in a release. “Local law enforcement frequently is the first contact with individuals who might be plotting attacks -- making the integration of law enforcement efforts critical to keeping our community safe.”

The FBI Portland Division's Joint Terrorism Task Force was established in 1997. Before 9/11, it focused primarily on domestic terrorism issues. Since then, the scope and size of the JTTF has rapidly increased to meet the challenge of international terrorism that confronts our country and the state of Oregon.

As part of the agreement between the FBI and the Sheriff’s Office, A joint board of leaders from the FBI and Clackamas County Sheriff's Office selected a Deputy Sheriff who will be assigned full-time to the JTTF. That assignment will occur at the conclusion of a clearance process that is currently underway.

Roberts also announced he has put in place an oversight procedure for the partnership. A senior manager that has already obtained a Top Secret clearance will be briefed regularly on the task force. The deputy will also have access to legal counsel to consult about any concerns about complying with the Oregon Constitution and Oregon laws.

Portland has long had a history with the task force. The City of Portland first voted to join the task force, a FBI program that involves local law enforcement with terrorism-related investigations, in 1997.  However, unhappy with the relationship, Portland voted in 2005 to withdraw from the task force.

Yet after a bomb threat in 2010, involving an FBI sting operation, the council decided in 2011 to enter into an “as-needed basis” with the FBI. Although the city was not formally in agreement with the agency, Portland Police Bureau would be involved in some aspects of the investigations. 

Portland ultimately rejoined the task force in February of this year, after a vote from the city council.

Beyond the FBI agents assigned to the JTTF, current members include:

Oregon State Police
Port of Portland Police Department
Washington County Sheriff's Office
Clackamas County Sheriff's Office
Internal Revenue Service
U.S. Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney's Office
U.S. Department of State
Diplomatic Security Service
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Immigration/Customs Enforcement
Federal Air Marshal Service
Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service
Defense Criminal Investigative Service 


Related Slideshow: Five Things To Know About Portland’s Joint Terrorism Task Force

The Portland City Council is considering new resolutions that would change the city's involvement with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. There are two possible new directions the city could choose. Here are five things that could change: 

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City Could Cuts Ties With Task Force

The way things stand now, the City of Portland is not officially in memorandum, or agreement with the FBI Joint Terrorism task force. However, because of a city council resolution passed in 2011, the city has agreed to lend police officers to FBI terrorism investigations as they see fit. 

The FBI also submits annual reports from their task force investigation to the council, which are part of public record.  

However, the council could vote to end the 2011 resolution, completely cutting ties with the task force. 

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City Could Rejoin The Task Force

The second option council members could choose is to completely commit to joining the task force. Portland would sign a formal memorandum of understanding with the FBI. This would also involve repealing the 2011 resolution, and the City’s “as-needed” involvement.  

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Two Police Officers 

Once the city joined, two officers from the Portland Police Bureau would be assigned to the task force.  Currently, if the FBI were conducting a terrorism related investigation in Portland, PPB would not be involved until an arrest was ready to be made. Now, the two officers would be part of the entire investigation. 

Currently, Washington County Sheriff's Office, Oregon State Police and the Port of Portland also have officers on the task force full-time. 

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No More Public Annual Reports

Whether the city decides to step completely in or out of the task force, either action will stop the annual reports presented to the city council. The reports were prepared by the FBI. Dana Hayes, spokesperson for Mayor Hales' Office, said there has been frustration with reports that fail to provide meaningful information. 

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Private Reports to Mayor Hales

If Portland does join the task force, then Mayor Hales would enter a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI, allowing him to receive classified briefings about task force investigations.

The reports will be presented by Gregory T. Bretzing with the FBI. The mayor will not be able to discuss specifics of the investigations, Haynes said. 


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