Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced Friday that he will be requesting to re-fund the Portland Police Bureau by $2 million as the city experiences a sharp rise in homicides and violent crimes.
In 2021 alone, there have been a total of 20 homicides in the city of Portland; compared to just one in the same time period last year.
Portland City Council voted to slash the police budget by $16 million last June, a move that included the elimination of a gun-violence reduction unit, according to the Associated Press.
Wheeler’s request comes after a slew of violent crimes plagued the city, including a 42-year-old man who was shot to death in broad-daylight at a city park on Tuesday.
"This shooting was brazen and horrific," said Wheeler in a post on Twitter. "The City and its partners are working hard to prevent and reduce gun violence. It’s a public health crisis that’s harming our entire community."
Wheeler’s urgent request to re-fund the Portland Police Bureau marks a strong turnaround for the city as Portland became the epicenter of the ‘Defund the Police’ movement in wake of the death of George Floyd back in May 2020.
The city of Portland frequents national headlines as anarchists continued their attempt to overthrow the city during nightly protests. Just this past Thursday, Antifa set fire to a federal courthouse, smashed windows to businesses, and assaulted law enforcement officers.
Due to the defunding of the Portland Police Bureau, police officers struggle to respond to the community's calls for help because of staffing failures; which also prevents them from responding to the destruction throughout the city caused by anarchists.
Most of Wheeler’s $2 million request would go toward hiring five additional detectives and forming a uniformed patrol team with a focus on gun violence, KATU-TV reported.
Although directly at-fault for the rise in violent crimes in the city of Portland, Portland City Council has stayed silent on the Mayor’s new proposal to fund the police department, which was announced Friday during a State of the City address.
During a Thursday news conference, Wheeler previewed his proposal with Police Chief Chuck Lovell and other city officials. Mayor Wheeler indicated that the proposed patrol team would operate differently than the gun-violence reduction team that was disbanded last year.
"What's going to be different this time, and Chief Lovell said it very clearly, they believe we need a prevention and intervention function, but he also made it clear that he would not stand that up unless the community supported it, unless there was community oversight, and unless there was the transparent collection and dissemination of data," Wheeler said.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty's office told KATU that she was reviewing the proposal but was looking forward "to learning more as well as hearing other community proposals and deliberating any corresponding financial requests during the budget process."
Commissioner Mingus Mapps weighed in on the Mayor’s proposal, expressing partial support for his requests. "There are parts of this proposal that I fully support," Mapps said in a statement to KATU, mentioning the plans for the Office of Violence Prevention, increased investigative capacities within the city police force, and more community oversight.
Portland community leaders that support the Police Department wrote a letter to Portland City Council, penning their frustrations with the city council and pleading for them to put an end to the city’s increase in violent crimes.
"There is just too much blood on the streets," said Pastor Ed Williams of the Inter-Faith Peace & Action Collaborative to Western Journal. "We have to be determined, we have got to be fed up about [the violence] and to want to do something about it. I see this issue in front of us as an opportunity to come together."
The popular democratic 'Defund the Police' movement swept through the country during the heart of election season; where city officials slashed police-budgets to divert the money and invest in 'community-led programs' instead.
Defunding the police comes with consequences as cities across the country reap horrific repercussions as a result of the movement. For example, the Seattle City Council slashed the Seattle police budget by over $50 million last year. Now the department struggles to respond to 911 calls due to staffing issues at the hands of the Seattle City Council.
Even though the Seattle Police Department fails meet public safety expectations, the Seattle City Council is looking to further defund the department by $5.4 million, a proposal that would leave detrimental lasting effects on the city.