Residents, business owners in police-defunded Portland feel city has descended into “lawlessness” and they’ve lost hope


PORTLAND, OR – Some residents and business owners in Portland have been left with the feeling that their city has descended into “lawlessness.” That feeling is somewhat substantiated after recently released UCR data by the FBI shows a significant spike in violent crime and they have broken their own murder record set in 2021.

Following the death of George Floyd in 2020, many large metropolitan areas felt the push to defund their police. Some, like Portland, heeded the call and slashed their department’s budget by a significant amount.

The loss in funding, as well as the crashing morale of the officers in the city, led to hundreds of officers leaving through retirement or seeking employment elsewhere. The lack of law enforcement officers in the city, according to some, may be part of the reason why some people, like Carol, a resident, feel as if the city is one without laws.

Carol, who did not provide her last name, spoke to Fox News about how she, and many like her, view the city:

“With the police force overburdened, people think they can do anything now. I feel like it won’t always be like this, but right now we’re in the midst of…lawlessness.”

Some business owners, like Loretta Guzman, have noticed the feeling that criminals can seemingly do what they wish without repercussion. Guzman, who saw her café vandalized by criminals after having the gall to host a “Coffee with a Cop” event, said:

“A lot of people feel really unsafe. They’re angry, they’re sad, they’re mad. They feel helpless. They feel they don’t have a voice…

“They have questions like, ‘Where are the police? How come they can’t come? We used to see them all the time.’”

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Other people, like Michael Fesser, the founder of Going Home 2, a nonprofit that works to assist men transitioning from prison to normal life, feel like the police have given up. Fesser said:

“We have felt that the police have, you know, checked out or failed us for a while. It seems that they have just sat back and said, ‘We’re not going to do anything unless it’s a dead body.’”

Fox News reached out to the Portland Police Bureau and acknowledged some of the issues stem from a lack of officers, noting they lost 250 over the course of the last two years. Terri Wallo Strauss, the spokesperson, reported:

“Every day we are still unable to staff shifts to minimums. That, coupled with increases in violent crime, traffic crashes…and other resource-intensive calls, means people sometimes have to wait a long time for an officer to respond.”

The lack of officers and enforcement, in general, maybe one of the causes for the spike in violent crime the city has seen since 2020. Before 2020, the homicide record for Portland held at 70, however, 2021 saw that record fall after the city saw 90 reported cases.

The new record did not last long as it has already been broken, with only a few days left in 2022. Where the new record will end up is anyone’s guess, but so far, there have been over 90 cases this year.

In response to the ever-increasing violence in the city, residents have voted out one of the biggest supporters of defunding the police department, former Democratic City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty. They have also voted to increase the number of City Council members while revamping the City Commission system as a whole.

The Portland Police Bureau has also increased its staffing levels from 773 in September to 804 sworn officers. Portland hopes to continue adding to these numbers to get to a point where the law enforcement agency could become efficient once more.

How long it will take to turn the city around and make residents and business owners feel safe again is anyone’s guess. But for now, those who live and work in the city are hopeful the changes the city is making will increase public safety as a whole.

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