Portland, Oregon proves that the national ‘defund the police movement’ is a complete disaster and needs to stop

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This article contains some editorial content written by a retired police chief and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today. 

PORTLAND, OR- For all the “defund the police” advocates, our suggestion is to take a look at Portland, Oregon if you want a glimpse of what the world will look like if that becomes a reality. If anarchy and violence are your thing, Portland is your utopia.

In the wake of George Floyd’s drug overdose death in Minneapolis last year, which was blamed on a tactical move employed by Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, leftists throughout the country thought it would be a good idea to respond to subsequent violent riots by defunding police departments.

This is akin to rewarding a patient on “My 600 LB Life” with a cheesecake for losing five pounds. It doesn’t make any sense.

An opinion piece by Jarrett Stepman notes that of all the cities where defunding the police has proven to be an absurd experiment, Portland is the poster child.

Recently, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) removed fencing erected around the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Federal Court building in the city, a building that was the scene of nightly riots for over three months.

According to the PPB, this was done in order to remove what was perceived as a symbolic divide within the community. For violent anarchists in Portland, this was like waving the green flag at the Daytona 500. Once the fence was down, the violent mob returned to the courthouse and picked up where they left off last year.

While Democrats in Washington continue to portray the January 6 siege at the US Capitol as an insurrection, what has been occurring in Portland for nearly ten months more accurately fits the definition.

When the violence besieged what used to be a beautiful city last year, city officials, including the feckless mayor of Portland Ted Wheeler attempted to appease the protesters and other radical activists, who pushed the city to move even further to the left than it already was.

Among those demands was to defund the Portland Police Bureau.

Wheeler decided to play along with the radical left, slamming the Trump administration for offering to send the National Guard to restore order in the city and then agreeing when the Portland City Council reduced the police budget by a cool $16 million.

Of course, when you sleep with the enemy, expect to get bit. And that is exactly what happened to Wheeler.

Mere hours after he criticized Trump, a mob showed up at his home and launched criticism on him for not being overly committed to their cause, and he has been a target ever since, having been harangued and harassed while out in the city.

One such incident led to Wheeler using pepper spray on the antagonists, which was reported by us at Law Enforcement Today.

What else has Portland’s kowtowing to the radicals accomplished? Well they’ve caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to both private and public property, businesses are fleeing the city,, and crime has exploded.

According to the Washington Examiner, the Portland City Council’s folly has led to a 2000 percent increase in homicides. This is hardly surprising, as cities across the country which implemented similar defunding measures or otherwise tied the hands of their police departments have experienced similar results. Crime is exploding everywhere.

According to a Fox News report from December, crime data compiled for the year 2020 from police departments throughout the U.S. showed a number of cities where they were experiencing crime waves not seen in decades, including serious, violent crime.

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The violence wasn’t limited either to large cities such as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles but also included smaller cities such as Louisville, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. However out of all cities, Portland reigned supreme.

It is also notable that the crime wave in these cities did not start at the beginning of 2020 but can trace its beginnings back to the end of May, when Floyd died in police custody.

Portland wasn’t the only city which defunded its police. Notably cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles followed a similar path, and just like Portland all have seen an explosion in violent crime.

Most of the cities have also implemented programs such as bail reform, and most minor crimes (and even some major ones) are simply not being prosecuted. These cities have seen an overwhelming increase in shootings and homicides as a result of police budget cuts.

Paul Cassell is a former U.S. District Court judge and a law professor at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of law. He has dubbed this the “Minneapolis Effect,” in research he has conducted on the topic.

“Specifically, law enforcement agencies have been forced to divert resources from normal policing to patrolling demonstrations,” Cassell wrote.

“And even as the anti-police protests have abated, police officers have scaled back on proactive or officer-initiated law enforcement, such as street stops, and other forms of policing designed to prevent firearms crimes.”

Cassell’s research also showed that due to this shift in policy, as well as the calls to defund the police, a number of people were killed who otherwise would not have been.

In his estimates, Cassell believes that “as a result of de-policing during June and July 2020, approximately 710 additional victims were murdered, and more than 2800 victims were shot.

Ironically, the defund the police movement was touted as a way to save black lives, however according to Cassell, “more than 80% of the victims of the increase in homicide are minority victims.”

After the defunding movement was showing itself to be a fool’s errand, some cities began to quietly reverse course. For example in Minneapolis, the city council removed $8 million from the police budget last December, while agreeing to reduce the size of the police department.

Just months later, the city council poured $6.4 million back into the police budget and agreed to hire additional police officers.

Even in Portland, Wheeler has asked for an additional $2 million increase to the police budget, as well as the reinstatement of a special police unit to combat gun violence.

This is what you get when you implement kneejerk policies in order to appeal to the most radical elements of society, and now even the most far-left radical progressive governments are walking back what has proven to be a short-sighted approach to what is basically a non-existent problem.

It may well take decades for cities such as Portland and Minneapolis to recover from such short-sighted policies. In the 1960s, neighborhoods in some cities which were rocked by violence in the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King took decades to recover, however some never did.

As Stepman, a contributor to The Daily Signal and co-host of The Right Side of History podcast noted, “the space between order and violent anarchy, it seems, is often just a thin blue line.”

Amen.

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