FILE — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler appears before a Senate Democrats' Special Committee on the Climate Crisis on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

(The Center Square) — A September memo from the Portland mayor's office shows there was strife between city hall and the Portland Police Bureau leading up to the city's ban on tear gas.

As Oregon Public Broadcasting reports, Wheeler warned PPB Chief Chuck Lovell in the memo that he could be subject to disciplinary measures "up to and including termination" following the PPB's vocal criticism of mayor's decision.

"Banning the lawful use of CS will make it very difficult to address this kind of violence without resorting to much higher levels of physical force, with a correspondingly elevated risk of serious injury to members of the public and officers," the PPB wrote in a statement.

A strongly worded memo from the mayor was sent to Lovell the day after the citywide ban on CS tear gas took effect on September 11.

“Your message undercut my directive and demonstrated a lack of forethought of the impact of conflicting information to the community during this volatile moment within our city,” Wheeler's memo read. “This reflects a serious lack of judgement on your part.”

In the memo, Wheeler alleged that the ban came after lengthy discussions between Lovell and his chief of staff, Kristin Dennis.

According to OPB, Wheeler sent additional text messages to Lovell the morning of September 12 demanding that he remove the PPB's condemnation of the tear gas ban.

PPB Lieutenant Greg Pashley referred The Center Square to the mayor’s office for "any questions regarding his direction as police commissioner."

Wheeler's office did not offer a reply beyond an automatic message.

Lovell took over as PPB chief following former PPB Chief Jami Resch's resignation in June as protests against police brutality began over the summer.

Wheeler has endured months of widespread criticism over his handling of ongoing protests and cases of alleged police brutality against journalists and demonstrators.

He is also facing a civil lawsuit from his reelection opponent, Sarah Iannarone, over a $150,000 contribution he allegedly gave to his own campaign. 

Staff Reporter

Tim Gruver is a politics and public policy reporter. He is a University of Washington alum and the recipient of the 2017 Pioneer News Award for Reporting. His work has appeared in Politico, the Kitsap Daily News, and the Northwest Asian Weekly.