Watching the city of Portland gradually come to terms with reality has been a long, painful process. After jumping onboard the “defund the police” bandwagon and watching dozens of officers retire or resign, shootings and murders skyrocketed in the city. Suddenly, the mayor reversed course and started talking about refunding the police and putting back together the Gun Violence Reduction Team he had disbanded, albeit under a different name.
But it turns out it’s a lot easier to tear down a police force than it is to build one up. It takes time to train new officers and with murders at record levels, the city didn’t have time to spare. So the plan was to try to rehire about 25 of the officers who’d left. To do this the city sent a letter to 81 former officers, giving them a deadline to express interest in returning. Ultimately only two expressed interest.
The chief’s office asked the retirees to alert the bureau of their interest by mid-January and several command staff members made personal calls, but only two had shown interest by the deadline…
The Police Bureau now has 96 vacancies in a budgeted force of 882 sworn members of all ranks, the bureau’s lowest authorized strength in 28 years, according to police figures.
One reason the letters may not have been very effective is a poison pill which anti-police City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty demanded the city include in the letter sent to retired officers:
Those who are barred from the program include: any officers who retire in lieu of being investigated or facing investigation or discipline; officers who trained others in methods known to be “unconstitutional crowd control practices,” officers who violated city policy “by cooperating with federal agents to attack Portland residents” and officers who have complaints that were sustained in their personnel file within the last 10 years for use of force, unconstitutional policing or violations of the city’s harassment and discrimination policy.
Stephanie D. Hudson, who’d been on the force since 1994 but retired last year, sent a letter replying to the city’s offer. The Oregonian calls it “blistering” and that’s accurate.
Your letter states, “You left at a time of great despair for the Bureau and the City of Portland, 2020 became a perfect storm that thrust our Bureau and the City into a very dark period.” This sounds as if you feel that those who left, abandoned the city in her time of need, but in reality, it is the oﬃcers who were abandoned. The darkness, destruction and death to Portland was a result of your failed polices and the lack of leadership. The “perfect storm” of which you speak was the demonization of police by the Mayor’s oﬃce and City Council members, and the failure of PPB leadership to stand up to them in support of their own oﬃcers.
Your letter mentions “considerable support from elected oﬃcials”. This is laughable. Portland has a Mayor who refuses to call out ANTIFA and condemn the riots, a DA who refuses to prosecute violent rioters and a Council Member who accuses police of committing the arsons and violence that were committed by the rioters. All of these previously mentioned people blame “right wing extremist” and the police for the violence and destruction in Portland. Do you recall Marquise Love? Love repeatedly punched and then kicked a man, with whom he had no beef, in the head, leaving him unconscious in the street. It’s a miracle that he didn’t kill that man. yet he received a mere 20 month sentence of which he will probably only serve a year. Out of the 1000 plus arrests made during the riots, probably only 10 percent were even prosecuted. Is that the “considerable support” of which you speak?
The one obvious sign that nothing has changed is the statement that the City will disqualify rehire candidates for “cooperating with federal agents to attack Portland residents.” That statement is beyond oﬀensive. Those federal agents responded out of necessity to protect an occupied court house that was under attack, because the Mayor wouldn’t allow PPB oﬃcers to do it. It was the federal agents, local law enforcement and actual citizens of Portland who were being attacked by ANTIFA. Citizens with political and religious beliefs that oppose ANTIFA and those who are in positions of power in Portland are left to fend for themselves. Just ask Andy Ngo. Meanwhile, the Mayor was more concerned about punishing the Feds for blocking the bike lane next to the court house.
By “cooperating with federal agents”, are you referring to those PPB oﬃcers who were given federal credentials? Those federal credentials were necessary to arrest the most violent of oﬀenders in hopes those oﬀenders would remain in federal custody, as opposed to booking them into the Multnomah County Jail where they would be released the same night and immediately commit more crime thanks to DA Schmidt. ANTIFA became so emboldened with the lawlessness that was embraced by our city leadership that they actually began hunting and murdering people. Of course, one of the murder victims was deemed a “right wing extremist” and “Trump supporter” so no big deal right? Thank God for those Federal Marshals who sought to bring that victim’s murderer to justice.
The letter concludes: “Your letter indicates that nothing has changed. It simply highlights why those who could leave, did leave. I suspect it will take a decade or more to repair the damage that has been done.” She’s right about there not being a short term fix for this. Even the city’s current police chief has said it will take years to bring staffing numbers up. In fact, the city expects them to continue to drop as another wave of officers retire this year:
The bureau also anticipates another large wave of retirements this July and will be working to encourage those veteran officers while they’re still working for the bureau to consider coming back under the program as well, Allen said. About 80 Portland officers will be eligible to retire by June 30, and another 17 can retire before the end of the year, according to the bureau.
The city is still underestimating the depth of the hole the city has dug for itself. Portland has become synonymous with riots and violent anti-police mobs. Why would anyone want to work there as a police officer?