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

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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.”

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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.”

Hardesty didn’t say whether one of her expectations would be to have officers respond to non-emergency 911 calls from city officials because their Lyft driver dropped them off when they refused to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.

 

For his part, Wheeler said he doesn’t understand the negativity among officers who have left the Bureau.

“There has never been a mayor in recent memory that has worked harder to get them access to the resources and the tools they need more than I have as they mayor of this city,” Wheeler said.

KATU said that the exit interviews were the first time the station had heard firsthand the frustration officers of the department have been feeling. They noted that the previous president of the police union, the Portland Police Association had frequently criticized city leaders.

The new union president, Brian Hunzeker who just took over this month is expressing optimism that a new city council being seated in January will work with the PPB to make changes in a collaborative manner.

“I think the voters spoke loudly by setting this new city council and I see promise in the fact that the Portland Police Bureau, the Portland Police Association, can actually start working towards healing those relationships,” Hunzeker said.

Of those who have left the bureau this year, a total of 97, the majority worked as police officers, 47. Of others who left, 11 were detectives, 7 sergeants, along with a number of other supervisors including the chief, assistant police chief, captains, police commanders and lieutenants also leaving. A number also worked in various support capacities.

The retirements and resignations in Portland follow a trend in major cities across the country, including Minneapolis and New York where large numbers of officers have either retired or resigned in conjunction with a lack of support from political leaders in their respective cities.  

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