Re-funding the police: As crime skyrockets, Portland mayor wants to rehire 100 recently retired officers

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PORTLAND, OR – In response to an unprecedented wave of gun violence in Portland, Mayor Ted Wheeler wants to rehire 100 retired police officers amid this record year for homicides.

Portland has been torn apart by Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters over the last year and a half, since the summer of violence following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Mayor Wheeler, who coddled to rioters and left-wing activists last year, is now calling for some re-funding of the Portland Police Bureau.

In the wake of the violence and calls to defund the Portland Police Bureau by Democratic politicians and activists, the Portland Police Bureau suffered a severe shortage of officers.

Many officers retired or left the city looking for more supportive working environments after the City Council failed to support them, and many called for their defunding.

As the police left, crime and violence flourished.

The city surpassed 1,000 shootings this year; 320 people have been injured and 69 shooting victims have died. That compares to 488 shootings and 33 homicides at the same time last year.

During several interviews this month, Mayor Wheeler talked about reinvesting in the Portland Police Bureau. Wheeler said he would make several proposals during the city’s upcoming budget adjustment process known as the “fall bump.” 

Those proposals include reintroducing a gun violence intervention team to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), rehiring retired officers to address the police staffing shortage, and equipping officers with body worn cameras to maintain accountability.

The Mayor said:

“The reality is more Portlanders are saying they don’t feel safe in their community…

“The way we make sure people are safe is (by) making sure we have a police bureau with the adequate tools, resources, training and staffing required to do the job effectively.”

The Mayor plans to deploy the Focused Intervention Team or “FIT,” the department’s first uniformed team solely dedicated to reducing gun violence since July 1, 2020, when the Portland City Council eliminated the bureau’s Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT) in response to liberal calls for police reform.

The goal of FIT is to de-escalate and lower community tensions, not replace policing. Sergeant Ken Duilio leads the team and said “FIT” will be different than GVRT in a key way:

“One of the differences is we have this community oversight group and really everything and anything we do; we talk about it with them. We meet once a week with the entire committee and we are open to listening to their input, their ideas, and they are going to tell us what they like and what they don’t like.”

Mayor Wheeler said his strategy to fight the surging violence in Portland was multifaceted:

“The overall strategy is the three R’s. It’s reform like the FIT. It’s about refocusing, we have a shortage of police.

Although the Mayor wants to add more officers to the department as a long-term goal, his immediate aim is to re-hire 100 officers who recently left the bureau through the retire/rehire program.

The retire/rehire program allows the bureau to hire recently retired officers who return to the force without their previous seniority and aren’t eligible for specialty units but are ready to take calls for service on day one.

The plan is a short-term way to rapidly increase staffing while the bureau works to train newly hired officers, according to the mayor. Wheeler said the officers will improve response times and help prevent burnout.

He said the understaffing plaguing the department was a major concern:

“Our city police bureau is critically understaffed. Chief Lovell believes we need 300 officers in the next three years to bring us back to where we need to be.

“It has been challenging and I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot going on. There are multiple crises unfolding in our city.”

In July, the Portland Police Bureau has 794 officers out of an allotted 916. Of those, 59 officers are still in training. Also in July, Chief Chuck Lovell warned that pending retirements were concerning and retire/rehire could be a short-term solution:

“We currently have about 80 officers who will be eligible in July to retire. Instead of seeing them leave and our numbers decrease, it will allow us a vehicle to bring them back to keep them from leaving, and prevent what would essentially be a retirement cliff…”

The Mayor said rebuilding the Portland Police Bureau and re-establishing community outreach will help stem the violence:

“There is no question in my mind that if we have the focused intervention team fully staffed (and deployed), which I expect to have happen next month, in addition to the enhanced community team that I directed the chief to deploy several months ago, that makes sure we have investigative follow up for gun violence…

“And if we add to that a longer-term strategy around rebuilding the Portland Police Bureau so we can get back to community policing, which is what we should be doing in the first place … this will definitely have an impact on reducing gun violence.”

The Mayor and police leadership have struggled to control the growing violence in the city against the backdrop of liberal calls for defunding the police.

After disbanding the police bureau’s controversial Gun Violence Reduction Team last summer in response to overwhelming protester demands and longstanding criticism from Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Wheeler has incrementally brought back the team’s functions.

In February, the mayor announced the formation of the Enhanced Community Safety Team — a group of three sergeants, six detectives and 12 officers devoted to investigating gun crimes.

In March, those officers were federally deputized and joined a task force consisting of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The People for Portland group took to Twitter to blast the Mayor’s plans, saying the action was too little too late:

“This is inadequate. Portland is 300 officers below the minimum staffing levels for a city our size with record shootings, murders & violence. The city council should fund 300 officers and phase in the hiring as quickly as can be responsibly achieved.”

Pointing to the City Council’s refusal to approve his request to increase the police budget in March, Mayor Wheeler said he believes things will be different this time around. He added:

“I want to be clear. People will say, ‘There goes Ted saying he wants to increase police. What happened to reform?’ I don’t think making sure PPB has the adequate tools, resources, training, and personnel is (in) any way inconsistent with also implementing more community oversight, transparency and accountability.”

 Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.


Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

Portland Police Bureau officers slam Wheeler, city officials on way out the door

November 21, 2020

 

PORTLAND, OR – The city of Portland, Oregon has been ground zero for out-of-control anarchy going on for over six months.

The mayor of that city, Ted Wheeler, has been the face of incompetence on steroids.

In fact, he barely beat out an admitted Antifa supporter for reelection. It’s uncertain if that is a reflection on Wheeler or on the residents of Portland, but that’s for another day.

Now, officers who have left the department this year are striking back against Wheeler.

KATU 2 in Portland received exit interviews for 17 officers who have left the department out of a total of 70 this year. The information was obtained through an open records request by the station.

Leaders of the Portland Police Bureau have noted that the spate of retirements and resignations have left the department short-handed in the midst of nightly violence by Antifa and Black Lives Matter anarchists.

Of those who left the agency, most said they would not come back under any circumstances, nor would they recommend the city to family or friends. While a majority of the exit interviews were from officers who were unhappy, there were some who had left for other reasons.

Below are some of the comments gleaned from the exit interviews:

  • “They show no leadership and put each dedicated uniform member in jeopardy,” a white police officer aged between 50 and 59 said.
  • Mayor Wheeler and the crazy commissioners are unable to keep officers safe,” said another.
  • “The lack of support from mayor and city council makes it a very easy decision to retire,” another officer said.
  • “The lack of respect and support from the city council is disheartening…every person is overworked, overwhelmed and burned out,” said a former robbery detective aged between 40 and 49.

In response to the revelations, Wheeler was nonplussed.

“I believe as the mayor of this city, I have supported them. Supporting them though does not mean discouraging change,” Wheeler said in disputing the notion he doesn’t support the police.

“I think they need to evolve. I think they need to hear what people are saying around the needs for improvements around public safety.”

As support for his argument that he supports the police, Wheeler noted that the department’s budget has grown substantially under his leadership, which was a point of contention for far-left nut and Portland city commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty raised in her demands to cut funds to the department earlier this month.

Hardesty remains unconcerned about the number of officers who have left the department, who would probably advocate for the complete dismantling of the department if she had her way.

In an interview earlier this month, Hardesty told KATU Investigates:

“I don’t want us to hire more people until we transform the culture of Portland Police Bureau. We can’t bring new people into a dysfunctional culture, and right now, PPB has a very dysfunctional culture,” Hardesty said.

Hardesty denies that she is anti-police.

“I hear all the time that I’m anti-police. I’m not anti-police. I’m anti-bad police. I am not an abolitionist. I know there are many people who just want to abolish the police totally. Police have a role in our community, but unfortunately, that role has been outsized.”

Hardesty told KATU that the role of police is to solve crime, which blew up this summer in Portland and throughout the country. The city cut the PPB’s gun violence reduction team, which has led to an explosion in shootings this year.

Hardesty claims that the reason she pushed for the cut to that team was because a city audit indicated that the team had stopped mostly black Portlanders, which she noted was odd because blacks make up a smaller percentage of the population in the city.

The city commissioner showed a certain amount of ignorance about the role of police in that she viewed police as a tool to solve crimes, not act proactively.

“Right now, we need them to solve crimes. We have 47 detectives. We don’t need a gun violence reduction team to have 47 detectives do their job, which is to solve crime,” Hardesty said.

“What I know is that we’re not manufacturing guns in inner northeast or in Portland at all, right? So, the police, the detectives who are supposedly certified smart people when it comes to where guns are coming from, they need to stop the supply of guns coming into the city of Portland.

We need to use the gun laws we have on the books to hold people accountable when their guns disappear.”

Yes, she said that.

Hardesty, who is clearly clueless about what police work involves has asked Wheeler in the past to turn control of the department over to her, however thankfully (and luckily for the PPB) he has resisted such efforts.

Hardesty acknowledges that such a move would lead to more officers leaving the city.

“I’ll be clear about what my expectations are—some police officers will retire because they won’t want to live under my expectations, and I think that’s fine.” 

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