Police-bashing Portland commissioner calls for more police defunding in city plagued by violence

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PORTLAND, OR – Portland City Commissioners, Jo Ann Hardesty and Chloe Eudaly are proposing slashing the Portland Police Bureau’s budget by another $18 million dollars.  Their plans are to utilize that money and funnel it into housing and food assistance in the city. 

Hardesty produced a memo to city council outlining what she proposes are cuts to the police department, and therefore the budget. Hardesty wants to eliminate the funding for the Rapid Response team and the Special Emergency Reaction Team. The Rapid Response team is tasked with crowd control and the Special Emergency Reaction Team is their version of a SWAT team.

So, in essence, if her budget cuts get approved, the Portland Police Bureau would no longer have these two specialty teams.  This means that in times of crisis, they would be forced to call another law enforcement agency that would have to be willing, and able to provide mutual aid to handle the situation. Unless of course they are able to come up with the funding elsewhere to keep these units intact.

Hardesty said:

“It has become clear to me through research and seeing tactics used during the 100+ days of protesting, that the Police Bureau utilizes antiquated methods of protest policing.”

Hardesty also wants off duty employment to end, to further cut back on overtime expenses, and to reduce or eliminate funding for what she terms as “military-like supplies and ammunitions.”

In addition to her budget plans, she wants the one time 5.6% cut that Wheeler’s office had mandated for all of the city to offset losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, to be permanent for the police department. She also wants the 42 full time positions which were left vacant with a wave of retirements in August, to be eliminated from the budget all together. 

All of Hardesty’s proposals would cut the Portland Police budget by over $18 million dollars beyond the already authorized cuts. Hardesty hopes that the money that was supposed to be going to ensure public safety, would instead by reinvested in minority communities. 

She said:

“We need a budget that reflects the reality many Portlanders face, and one that reflects the demands of the moment.  The amendments I’m proposing are people-centered.  They offer a chance for us to make sure people are sheltered and have food in their stomachs during this economic downturn and invest in the community and community safety as demanded by our constituents.”

Democratic Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler proposed his own thoughts on the upcoming budget process. His proposal would focus on what he termed as a “community-led process empowering black Portlanders.” 

Wheeler’s proposal would see $1.5 million dollars removed from the police department’s budget, combined with $1.9 million dollars in tax revenues from marijuana, to go towards investments in the black Portlander’s program.  Hardesty felt that Wheeler’s proposal was nothing more than an insult. 

She tweeted:

“A budget is a moral document and we have big decisions to make next week to ensure we are building a more equitable and resilient Portland.  That means listening to the demands of the #BlackLivesMatter movement by reinvesting a bloated police budget into our community.”

What Hardesty’s plan, or any other leader in the city fails to take into account, is the increase in violent crime that has been occurring in Portland since May of this year. Lieutenant Greg Pashley, of the Portland Police Bureau noted that the number of homicides alone has increase dramatically from last year. 

Pashley told NTD that the number of homicides that have been reported in Portland this year are somewhere close to 50. Most of those have been reported since the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In contrast, there were only 26 reported cases in 2018 and 45 in 2019. 

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the number of homicides and violent crime in Portland will only increase as the police agency gets defunded further. What will remain to be seen is if the city leaders will continue on their path of degrading public safety over the demands of groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa, or if they will side with their citizens that live in fear.

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As crime soars in Minneapolis; residents demand answers from city council who voted to defund police

September 24, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS, MN  Residents and business owners in Minneapolis have expressed growing concern over an increase in crime.  The increase appears to correlate directly with a decrease in the number of officers that the Minneapolis Police Department is fielding on the city’s streets. 

People from all five city precincts are calling upon the City Council for some sort of help as robberies, vandalism and violent crime continue to affect quality of life and livelihood.

The once beautiful and vibrant city now resembles a war zone in many ways.  Long-time residents are packing up and leaving the city, with businesses following suit. 

Together they leave vacant homes, boarded-up buildings and empty sidewalks in their wake.  Civil unrest also occurs at night, in addition to general crime.

Demonstrators have set up a one-square block, barricaded an autonomous zone similar to Seattle’s temporary “CHAZ” settlement, calling it “The Free State of George Floyd.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo stated:

“We are experiencing gun violence in the city that we have not seen in five years.  Our homicide rates have doubled last year’s.  We’re sadly approaching near 400 people who have been shot and wounded by gun violence.”

MPD (as well as police departments across the state) has seen an unprecedented level of demoralization, which have effected not only retention of veteran officers, but recruitment of new officers as well.  WCCO reported that new officer hiring is close to a 25-year low for the department. 

Concern for the political climate in the area, as well as anti-police sentiment from some of the loudest groups (those purported to be protesting for George Floyd), have made Minneapolis a less-than-ideal place to serve on the police force. 

Minneapolis City Council members, elected by residents to legislate in the best interests of the city, took it upon themselves in July to begin defunding the MPD.

The Council’s Budget Committee in July approved a $1.1 million appropriation of funds from the Police Department to the Health Department.  They had previously advanced a proposal for a November ballot vote to create a new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention under the Health Department. 

The Council intends to eventually replace the current police force with an unarmed corps of community responders, to be known as “violence interrupters,” under the new department.

The plan for the responders is to train and empower them to engage the community and de-escalate violent situations.

Ahead of the proposed police force replacement, the city in August began deploying several dozen responders in a pilot model called “Cure Violence.”

Interestingly, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has been hosting screenings of the documentary film “The Interrupters” around the city since April, in order to familiarize residents with the pilot program and its intent. 

This indicates that plans for the program have likely been in the works since before the death of George Floyd, who died on May 25.

The trailer can be viewed below (WARNING: Language).

In June, the City Council also voted unanimously (a veto-proof 12-0 vote) to advance another charter amendment proposal to the November ballot that would allow a change to the city charter that mandates police department funding.

Approval of this referendum by city voters would provide an unobstructed pathway toward dismantling the Police Department completely, making good on the Council’s pledge to do so.

The verbiage of the proposal outlines a public health-based approach to violent crime, rather than a law enforcement-based approach.  This seems to clarify the Council’s reasoning for appropriating Police Department funds to the Health Department.

The amendment specifies that the appointed director of the new community safety agency would be restricted to those only with “non-law enforcement experience.”

 

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