CW: This story has a quote containing strong language.
A Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office deputy was placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation, after a video surfaced in which he made comments about the politically motivated agitators engaged in arson and other activities in areas ravaged by wildfires and largely evacuated.
The video, posted Friday by self-described cop watcher and livestreamer Robert West, presents a conversation between West and a deputy, who is never identified and is only partially seen.
The deputy does not describe any first-hand experience with the anti-fascist arsonists that persistent rumors purport to be active in the county — even while most law enforcement agencies have officially denied the same and even begged residents not to spread false rumors that are overwhelming dispatchers and making their jobs more difficult.
Instead, the deputy says that “conservatives” who are patrolling their areas have shared photos and information about alleged encounters they have had or evidence they have uncovered.
Near the end of the five-minute video, one person — evidently the sheriff’s deputy — is heard saying, “These Antifa motherfuckers are out causing hell, and there’s a lot of lives at stake and there’s a lot of people’s property at stake because these guys have some vendetta.”
In a release Saturday morning, the sheriff’s office said it learned of the video the previous evening and called the comments “inappropriate” from a deputy who was on duty and in uniform.
“It appears the deputy was aware he made these comments while on video,” the release said. “At the time of the comments, the deputy was tasked with ensuring that residents knew of the wildfire hazards while he was patrolling the area.”
The deputy has been placed on administrative leave while the sheriff’s Professional Standards Unit investigates this “potential violation of policy,” the release said.
“As soon as I was made aware of this incident, I moved swiftly to place this deputy on leave while we investigate,” Sheriff Craig Roberts said. “The Sheriff’s Office mission is to provide calm and safety especially during unprecedented times such as these. I expect nothing less of our deputies, and apologize to all in our community.”
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office had on Thursday addressed the spread of false rumors and misinformation online, including a widely shared claim that deputies had arrested several Antifa arsonists on Thursday. (They didn’t.)
The Current has received other reports of “neighborhood patrols” as concerns have spread about looting and vandalism in the evacuated zones. In at least one area east of Canby, roads were “closed” by cones and spray-painted signs — reportedly the work of local residents and not official agencies.
“Families in the area are doing patrols through the night,” one Macksburg-area resident told the Current Saturday. “I drove from 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., and it was good to see the county sheriff come up on me to check me out.
“I have a 500-gallon water tank and pump on my truck, so he got a good idea of what I was doing. Both my sons and other family will continue until the threat is gone.”
A countywide curfew continues to be in effect in Clackamas County from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
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