Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell announced Tuesday that the Portland police will no longer conduct low-level traffic stops.
Under the directive, officers were instructed to no longer stop motorists for minor offenses, including expired tags, broken headlights, and "equipment issues" unless related to an immediate safety threat.
Wheeler said, "The goal of these two changes is to make our safety safer and more equitable." Additionally, police must receive recorded consent before searching a vehicle and inform the motorist that they have the right to refuse.
Wheeler added that the changes are also being made because "…our staffing on the streets is inadequate."
Currently the Portland Police Bureau is at its lowest staffing in decades, 150 officers short of "authorized strength," according to the Associated Press.
Over the past nine months, more than 120 officers having left the force, citing low morale and burnout from ongoing riots that rocked the city. Last week 50 police officers from the bureau’s riot response team resigned. The officers were regularly targeted by Antifa and BLM activists with fireworks, rocks and glass bottles during the riots.
Wheeler claimed that the changes will reduce the number of people of color "who are disproportionately impacted by consent searches and traffic stops."
Portland's City Council slashed $27 million from the police budget last year. Following the reduction in funding of the bureau, Portland has experienced its deadliest year in more than a 25 years.There have been 42 homicides so far this year as the Rose City is on track to eclipse its all-time record for homicides of 70 set in 1987.
Lovell said in a statement, "Issues around consent searches are a national concern. This upcoming directive will ensure PPB has a solid policy and procedures in place that appropriately document what occurred. I'm hopeful these changes will demonstrate to the community that we have listened to their concerns and feedback, while also balancing the use of our limited resources efficiently."
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