Portland, OR was one of the leading voices in the “Defund the Police” movement in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Politicians gave into the demands of like-minded rioters and activists and began cutting the budget of the city’s Bureau of Police.
On its face, this should have been seen as a bad decision since the very people making the demands were rioting and damaging private and public property.
So, at a time when a greater police presence was needed, city government cut back on police.
The politicians gave into the demands of criminals and expected them to… what? Go home? Play nice?
Defunding the police has just emboldened the criminals wherever it was tried, endangering lives and driving away people and business.
Now, with the damage done and its tax base shrinking, Portland has realized it needs police. Unfortunately, now, it is more burdensome to fund them and harder to attract officers to a city where they know the government doesn’t want them. Gee, if only they had maintained their police force and supported them when they had the chance, they might not find themselves in the predicament they do.
The city recently launched new task force focused on cracking down on retail and vehicle theft to halt the city's rampant crime. To do this, they are working to hire more DAs and investigators, which means they are putting more money toward policing after cutting the budget by $15 million.
It’s about time.
Portland residents are three times more likely to be a victim of property crime than the average U.S. citizen, according to Neighborhood Scout. The city had more than 63,000 property thefts last year, according to police statistics. The 11,000 or so vehicles that were stolen last year set a new record in the city.
And it’s the residents who are suffering. That is, if you can find a Portland resident. Those who can are leaving the city, not wanting to risk their lives for city living, and they are taking businesses with them. “Since the pandemic, public data found that over 2,600 businesses filed changes of address with the US Postal Service after leaving their downtown Portland zip codes,” according to the Daily Mail UK.
This will only exacerbate the problems the city government has in trying to pay for needed services when their tax base is shrinking. But they did it to themselves.
While all this has been happening, police officers have been retiring early, quitting, or transferring to municipalities that appreciate them. Rather than prosecute the criminals who are caught, liberal prosecutors are not following through and taking cases to court. This allows the accused to walk free and believe they are immune to prosecution.
While it would be nice to believe that the Portland City Council got the message that it needs to control crime, it’s not likely. It’s also not likely that its efforts will bear much fruit. Defunding was done dramatically in a large amount and the result was a large increase in crime. Refunding in dribbles is likely to only produce minimal results.
The council needs to send a message to residents, businesses, and criminals that is clear and unmistakable.
Re-fund the police even more than they were cut and voice their support for the police.
Do that, and only if everyone believes it (which requires support through actions) can the Portland government or any other municipal government that defunded police begin to rebuild.