Last month a group that promotes tourism to Portland warned that the city had become too scary for many tourists. “Around the world, too many people associate Portland with homelessness and homicide,” one city commissioner said. Travel Portland said the fear factor caused by so many violent protests and increase in violent crime was hindering the city’s economic recovery.
About a week later, Mayor Wheeler announced his plan to hire a bunch more police officers to try to get the city’s shooting and homicide problem back under control.
Starting in the fiscal year 2023, Wheeler said he wants to increase the police bureau’s staffing numbers by 300 officers — 200 sworn officers and 100 unarmed public safety specialists — over the next three years.
To attract more officers to the force, Wheeler is proposing $25,000 signing bonuses to the first 50 officers or public safety specialists. He is also supporting hiring back 25 retired police officers.
Today, Portland’s Police Chief Chuck Lovell gave the bad news. Even if the city follows through with this new plan, it’s going to take a while before residents see any improvement:
It will take years for the public to see an impact from the hiring of more than 200 police officers as proposed by the mayor, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said Tuesday.
New officers must be recruited and trained before they can work on their own, he said. At the same time, Lovell warned of a “retirement cliff” of Portland officers next year…
“We didn’t get here overnight,” Lovell said. “We have been trending in this direction for some time. … It’s a yearslong process to get where we need to be.”
Lovell made the remarks at a public safety forum. Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Asphaug was also there and offered his take on what had caused the surge in crime in the first place.
Asphaug cited “significant” staff reductions at the Police Bureau, retaliation among gang members and the decision to dissolve the police Gun Violence Reduction Team. He called the elimination of the team a “blow to law enforcement.”
The City Council dissolved the Gun Violence Reduction Team last year as part of a $15 million cut to the police budget, citing concerns about its disproportionate stops of people of color.
“Now with that absence we are seeing the increase in gun crimes,” Asphaug said. He applauded the city’s latest effort to form another team to try to stop gun violence before it happens.
So there you have it. The acting US attorney is saying that the city’s defund the police effort led to the increase in shootings and homicides and the police chief is saying it will probably take years to undo that damage caused by that decision. City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and everyone else who supported this nonsense should take a bow.
I think many Democrats may finally have learned their lesson about defunding the police (though a lot of the activists haven’t changed their tunes at all) but the about face of elected official often seems to take place without much reflection on the human cost of their idiotic efforts. In Portland, all of the same people who took the city into this mess are now trying to navigate their way out of it, yet few of them seem to have really acknowledged that’s what is happening. They are trying, belatedly to clean up their own mess.