Portland city officials “shocked” that no cops want to volunteer for the resurrected gun violence unit

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The following contains editorial content which is the personal opinion of the author, a retired Chief of Police.

PORTLAND, OR- In a surprise to nobody except the dunderheads who run the city of Portland, Oregon, the city is having not much luck in filling a specialty unit within the police department focused on gun violence, in the midst of an explosion of shootings and with a homicide rate increasing at a faster rate than inflation under Biden.

The increase in shootings is being blamed by some politicians on COVID-19, ignoring the fact that their anti-police rhetoric is largely responsible for a significant number of officers who have decided to either retire or resign, leaving the department shorthanded.

For the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), they lay the blame exactly where it belongs—budget and unit cuts to the agency last summer, according to KATU-2.

In April, city leaders approved the formation of a unit called the Focused Intervention Team, setting aside millions of dollars in grants for so-called community-based organizations, however the approval didn’t come with additional funding or manpower for the PPB.

It is now coming forth that only a handful of officers have applied to fill the 14-person team when it was opened for applications in May, so the bureau decided to start over, selecting supervisors for the team prior to filling officer positions. That application period closed this week.

Since the application period was announced in May, only four officers have applied to work in the unit, according to the Wall Street Journal. Typically such a unit would draw the attention of a number of officers, however given the climate in Portland, there simply isn’t that much interest.

The new unit is designed to replace the Gun Violence Reduction Team, shut down last year amid protests in Portland and elsewhere seeking racial justice and an overhaul of police practices.

In addressing the lack of interest among officers, police personnel acknowledge that such positions were at once considered lucrative and an opportunity to do something different.

However the new unit will have additional scrutiny, with its own citizen-advisory board, put in place after the old unit was criticized by city leaders for being racist. In fact, the job description includes the “ability to fight systemic racism.”

Surely, this unit won’t be micro-managed by the likes of city commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, a far-left neo-Marxist who continuously tries to attract attention to herself.

“They’re demonizing and vilifying you, and then they want to put you in a unit where you’re under an even bigger microscope,” said Daryl Turner, head of the Portland Police Union.

KATU noted that police have been the subject of near continuous street violence over the past year (actually 15 months) as well as frequent criticism from politicians such as Hardesty and other anti-police radicals.

According to Jami Resch, assistant chief of the Portland Police Bureau’s investigations branch, she acknowledges that morale in the department is down in the bureau.

She noted the criticism of the old unit, as well as uncertainty surrounding the new one as well as the relationship with the oversight committee have likely slowed applications. She predicted that once roles are “clarified,” there will be more interest.

The supervisors selected for the unit will go throughout the department and seek out interested officers, as well as maybe draw additional interested officers.

A department spokesman, Lt. Greg Pashley predicts that “if you get some good supervisors, good sergeants in the role that people would be interested in going to work with on this really complicated job.”

The oversight board will be charged with reviewing data on who officers stop, search, arrest and interact with. In other words, micromanagement.

“It might give one pause as they’re considering whether to apply for the new iteration of this assignment as to what kind of support there is, what’s the leadership going to be like, what’s the mission, and so that could certainly contribute to people taking a pause before they apply,” Pashley said.

“Every person who allies, or who looks at it and doesn’t apply, is going to have their own reasons, and there’s probably going to be a lot of reasons. We can’t just narrow it down to one thing.”

Previously, the aforementioned leftist Hardesty said the bureau should just assign officers instead of waiting on volunteers. That would end well. Why would anyone want to subject themselves to being under the thumb of someone like her?

“Why would you be relying on volunteers? If I was the police chief, I would want my best, my best at customer service, my best at de-escalation, my best at communicating with community. Those are the people I’d want [as] part of that team,” Hardesty said [emphasis added]

Over 100 officers have left the Portland Police Bureau since last summer, which could also be a reason for the lack of interest, Pashley noted. He said some of the officers who previously served on the disbanded Gun Violence Reaction Team have either retired, resigned or moved to other roles within the Bureau.

Some of those officers are working on the Enhanced Community Safety Team, a group of officers who respond to and investigate shootings. Since Portland defunded the police department, that unit has been very busy as crime has exploded in Portland.

Other officers work on a joint federal task force, the Metro Safe Streets Task Force, which pairs PPB officers with FBI and ATF agents, as well as other local law enforcement officers from departments throughout Multnomah County.

According to the Council on Criminal Justice, a think tank focusing on criminal justice policy and research, homicide rates rose 24% in a sample of 32 American cities in the first quarter of 2021, compared with the same period in 2020, a recent study showed.

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For some of our previous reporting on the mess that is the city of Portland, we invite you to:

DIG DEEPER

The following contains editorial content written by a retired Chief of Police and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

PORTLAND, OR- Over the past roughly fourteen months, the once-beautiful city of Portland, Oregon has served as ground zero for anti-American riots carefully referred to by mainstream media outlets as “peaceful protests.”

Along with those riots came bizarre calls to defund the Portland Police Bureau despite the fact the city, in particular the downtown area is being held hostage by anarchists.

Along with defunding of police, a number of officers have decided to retire or resign, tiring of being punching bags for criminals and leftist city council members alike.

As a result of anti-law enforcement policies in the city, Portland has seen an 800% increase in homicides and crime is spiraling out of control. One officer, a detective who gave an exit interview said it all:

“The community shows zero support. The city council are raging idiots, in addition to being stupid. Additionally, the mayor and city council ignore actual facts on crime and policing in favor of radical leftist and anarchists’ fantasy.

What’s worse is ppb [Portland Police Bureau] command (lt. and above) is arrogantly incompetent and cowardly.”

Another:

“The only differences between the Titanic and PPB? Deck chairs and a band.”

Finally…maybe the city’s government is starting to wake up to the reality of what they have fomented. Unfortunately, it was only after yet another violent weekend in downtown Portland.

KGW-8 in the city reports that early Saturday, seven people were shot, one of whom was killed in weekend violence in the city.

 

Police reported that at around 2:10 a.m. they responded to a report of multiple shots near Southwest 3rd Avenue and Oak Street downtown.

Law enforcement sources say that seven people, men and women were transported to a hospital by ambulance. One, an 18-year-old woman whom police did not identify later succumbed to her wounds. The other six injured people are expected to survive, police reported.

Officials say the suspects fled the area prior to their arrival and no arrests have been made; police did not release a description of the suspects.

In a Saturday afternoon press briefing, police chief Chuck Lovell and Mayor Ted Wheeler bemoaned the violence which continues to plague the city.

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According to Lovell, police arrived at the shooting scene to find “an extremely chaotic scene with lots of injured people.”

“We all want to know what happened and who did this and why, Lovell said. “I pledge that more information will come out as soon as possible.”

For Wheeler, who had long supported the violent protests and riots in downtown Portland and is now trying to close the barn door after the horses have gotten out, he expressed anger at the latest incident.

“What happened early this morning is devastating. It’s tragic and senseless.”

As John McClain said in Die Hard, “Welcome to the party, pal.”

 

As violence started to overtake Portland last year, Wheeler decided to play nice with the Black Lives Matter and Antifa thugs who were running roughshod over the city. He thought that by coddling and showing support for the protests, it would buy him some empathy from the violent mob.

How was he repaid? Violent protesters showed up at his home, he was accosted in restaurants and he was mocked and ridiculed. What’s the saying? “If you sleep with the devil, don’t be surprised when you get burned.” That is exactly what happened to Wheeler.

So, how has the leadership on the city council dealt with the exploding violence? They cut $27 million from the police budget and said they would dedicate money to community groups “working to curb gun violence,” Fox News reported.

Of course a lot of people think if you hold hands and sing “Kumbaya” that will make everything better.

“Police can’t prevent shootings,” said one Portland activist, Royal Harris. “That’s part of it, we as a community have to work together to prevent these things instead of looking at it as a police approach.”

How else did they respond? Last year, the city disbanded a specialized unit which was tasked with dealing with gun violence, claiming that it “disproportionately targeted people of color.” One councilor who supported that move is far-left nut job Jo Ann Hardesty.

“The police have a role, but their role is simply to solve crime—their role is not to prevent crime, their role is not to intervene in community activities,” she told KOIN-6. “A response to gun violence should not be a knee-jerk reaction.”

Got that? Police are not there to “prevent crime,” they are only there, according to Hardesty, to pick up the bodies. You wonder why crime in Portland is out of control? That mindset of the leading loudmouth on the city council tells you everything you need to know.

Sgt. Ken Duilio of the Portland Police Bureau knows exactly why crime is exploding in Portland.

“You took away the gun violence reduction team. There is nobody in this city doing traffic stops of these armed, violent shooters traveling the city looking for their rivals to shoot and who are going to vigils and lighting up the entire crowd,” he said.

The latest shooting has Wheeler finally acknowledging that there is a need for more resources to deal with the crime explosion.

“Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough,” Wheeler said. “What’s needed is clarity in terms of what resources the Portland Police Bureau needs in the years ahead to address the changing safety needs in our community.”

Resources? How about restoring the money the city council defunded from the police department? How about restoring the violence reduction team? And why not show some support for the men and women of the Portland Police Bureau?

Want to know how bad it has gotten in Portland? According to Oregon Live, the department has found little success in getting officers to sign up for a new uniformed team of officers tasked with addressing the gun violence in the city.

Thus far, only three officers have signed up for the positions while they are seeking twelve officers and two sergeants to staff the unit.

The team, called the Focused Intervention Team is designed to fight gun violence in a proactive manner with a visible patrol presence on the streets of Portland. The unit was to cover seven days a seek in order to remove guns off the street. The unit would be directed by police intelligence efforts, identifying those involved in recent shootings and attempting to “interrupt the cycle of violence.”

If you want to know one reason for the reluctance of officers to sign up for the unit, this is a likely culprit. Part of the plan is to establish a 12-member community oversight board to “monitor” the team’s actions. Nothing like having a group of community activists to tell police what and what not to do. The city has selected 12 city residents, who the article did not identify.

According to Assistant Police Chief Jami Resch, who oversees the investigations branch of the PPB, officers are (obviously) concerned about the oversight board and “have a lot of questions” about that board’s role.

If experience is any guide, the board will be a bunch of liberal busybodies with excess time on their hands who always wanted to tell cops what to do. Now they will have their outlet.

“What they’re wanting to know is what is the oversight and what are the expectations of them,” Resch said. “What is actually going to be their job.”

While Resch said officers are reluctant to join the team because “they don’t want to fail,” they are probably more concerned with having to answer to twelve untrained community activists.

In a meeting with the oversight group, Resch told them officers need to know “what is expected of them” from the clueless about law enforcement activists.

“I think once we have a better idea of what this group is, it would be very helpful to bring your information, your mission and your desires of this team to the bureau so that the officers kind of know what is going to be expected of them.”

“Your information?” “Your mission?” “Your desires of this team?” Want to know why officers are “reluctant” to join this team? That’s all you need to know. A bunch of community activists is designing this program, and they are going to let the PPB know what their desires are? This program is destined to go down in flames.

In response to the latest shooting, Wheeler, who also serves as the city’s police commissioner said the city needs “a plan.”

“What we need is a plan,” Wheeler said. “This really exploded in the last year or so. It’s a pandemic, and it needs to be addressed with adequate resources. It’s pretty obvious from where I sit, we do not have the adequate resources deployed on our streets in a proactive way.”

Portland has seen 52 homicides thus far in 2021. Last year the city recorded 55—for the entire year. That number was the most Portland has seen in 26 years.

Adequate resources? Here’s a tip…RE-fund the Portland Police Bureau and increase that amount by a few million dollars. Get the busybody city council out of the day-to-day operations of the police bureau, put a gag on Hardesty and let the police do their damn job!

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