Portland, OR (KPTV) — For months clashes between police and protesters have played out in the streets of downtown Portland, and now we’re hearing from some of the officers who have been on the front lines for the Portland Police Bureau.
The continuing protests have put Portland on the national map in recent weeks. Night after night, Portlanders rally downtown to protest racial injustice. But police officers say that message is being lost in the violence.
Officers say over the past couple months, the hate that has been directed at them is extreme. Sergeant Brent Maxey says one of those occasions happened at the Portland Police Association building, when protesters targeted their hate at female officers.
“They were just saying some of the most vile things to them, you know, talking about sexually assaulting them, talking about how they were sex objects for all the other officers on the squad,” he said. “I would say that’s down in one of the lowest, lowest, worst nights of my career.”
Officer Rehanna Kerridge has also been in the midst of protests after learning her unit, the Gun Violence Reduction Team, was being eliminated. She says after that, she was transferred from the north precinct to the central precinct in the Justice Center.
“Coming to work in an area that I don’t necessarily work and then getting to be downtown dealing with the — which I don’t want to call them protesters down here — but the people actively trying to destroy and create division and it is very hard,” she said.
Officers say they’ve found themselves working exhausting hours and dealing with incredibly difficult situations over the past several months.
They also say that the protests have impacted their ability to do their jobs.
“The amount of resources around to actually deal with the calls is extremely limited and I have seen calls throughout the last couple months that have held for, you know, a day because there’s simply no one to go,” said Sgt. Maxey.
Officer Kerridge adds that she’s watched these protests tear police families apart.
“Family members are not speaking to each other. Lines are being drawn in the sand, essentially, and people are cutting each other off,” she said.
When it comes to solving that division, Kerridge says people need to really take the time to have real conversations.
“It needs to be smaller; it needs to be maybe one-on-one and we need to be able to listen to another perspective without interruption, without disagreeing, but just listen,” said Kerridge.
But Sgt. Maxey says the solution will come with louder and more vocal support for the police.
“I think more of those people that are showing support need to stand up and speak out against it and I really think that’s how we’re going to get through this,” he said.
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