Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese issued a special order last week allowing deputies to book suspects accused of misdemeanor reckless burning and criminal mischief into the county jail as Portland continues to grapple with violent protests that have seen businesses and government buildings vandalized.
The changes took effect on April 23, according to a memo signed by Reese.
“The addition of the two specified crimes was done in recognition of the recent proliferation of attempts to set fire to objects and structures during demonstrations, and has been done in the best interest of public safety,” sheriff’s office spokesman Chris Liedle told Fox News.
Previously, deputies issued a citation for misdemeanor crimes with a court appearance order. The order comes after nearly a year of protests that have devolved into violence that resulted in buildings being vandalized, fires being set and violent clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement.
The sheriff’s office has historically had an opening booking policy, meaning that anyone with a criminal charge could be booked into its jail. That changed with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with the agency deciding to restrict jail booking to higher-level crimes in an effort to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in its correctional institutions.
Local officials have spoken out about the level of chaos happening on Portland streets each night as some groups of demonstrators have engaged in destructive behavior.
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