After weekend of violence, Portland's mayor says he will 'fight for more police officers'

At 2 am Saturday morning, there was a shooting in downtown Portland. Seven people were hit and one of them, an 18-year-old woman named Makayla Maree Harris, later died from her injuries. Police believe the shooting may have involved gangs but aren’t sure yet because some witnesses fled the scene before police could talk to them.

That was only one of four shootings that police responded to within four hours early Saturday morning. One of the other shootings was also deadly, bringing the number of homicides in the city this year up to 51. In response to the ongoing violence, Mayor Wheeler said it was clear police did not have enough resources and vowed to fight for more officers.

“It is obvious from where I sit that we do not have adequate resources deployed on our streets in a proactive way,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler…

To try and protect Downtown better, the mayor said they are looking at ways to bring more officers in from surrounding precincts. But the police bureau is down 125 officers in the past year…

“And so I will fight for additional resources for the police bureau, I will fight for more police officers and I will fight for more tools and whatever support the police bureau needs to get its job done,” said Wheeler.

Of course, that support costs money and the mayor wasn’t talking dollar amounts this weekend. How the cost plays out will likely be part of council budget discussions to come.

He’s going to have to get specific because at present officers are deciding they’d rather work somewhere else even if that means taking a pay cut. Put another way, being a cop in Portland isn’t worth they paycheck the city is currently offering.

In his press conference about the violence Saturday, the mayor also praised the work of the new community safety team which is just a revamped version of the Gun Violence Reduction Team which was sacrificed last year in an effort by the Portland City Council to defund the police.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell was slightly more circumspect about resources but did say, “We’ve had many years of growth as a city and a shrinking police department, frankly. And I think you can only go on so long with that trend before you hit a tipping point.” In other words, we’ve reached that point already and it’s time to start adding officers if the city has any hope of turning around the current trend.

Here’s KGW’s report on the situation. Portland really is the poster city for doing everything wrong when it comes to public safety. But a year after last summer’s riots, it seems some have finally learned their lesson.