After slashing the police budget until it bled, the leaders of Portland, Oregon, are giving the police department a tiny transfusion.
On Wednesday, the Portland City Council unanimously passed a $5.2 million package for police spending as part of an increase to the city budget, according to U.S. News.
Last year, as Portland mobs were chanting “defund the police” and demanding a $50 million budget cut, city leaders sliced $15 million from the budget to appease protesters; they then added $12 million in cuts, claiming they were due to budget concerns related to COVID-19, U.S. News reported.
At a public hearing on the spending, several Portland residents said the city’s experiment in eschewing police protection for its citizens was a failure.
Jessica Shellhorn explained that her neighborhood has descended into a series of gunshots, fires and thefts.
“My family is at the point where we only feel safe in our house,” Shellhorn said, according to The Oregonian. “The urgency that’s needed to address the situation, I barely have words at this point.”
Frank Blackston, a disabled resident, also spoke up for the police.
“The city feels lawless, and we feel abandoned by our elected officials,” he said.
Do cities who have defunded their police need to re-evaluate their choice?
More than 70 people have been murdered in Portland this year as the city has seen an 83 percent rise in homicides.
“Many Portlanders no longer feel safe,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said, according to U.S. News. “And it is our duty, as leaders of this city, to take action and deliver better results within our crisis response system.”
The police department is 128 officers below its approved strength due to the mass exodus of police officers at a time city leaders were cutting the budget and trashing their work.
Portland’s goal is to hire 200 additional sworn officers and 100 unarmed community safety officers by 2024.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, despite supporting the proposals, complained about a “lack of process, transparency and public engagement,” according to The Oregonian.
She indicated that she will remain a critic of Portland’s police.
“I do not want to mislead the public. Nothing we do today will change conditions on the street overnight,” Hardesty said. “Attempting to mitigate crime through adding police is one of the most expensive, least effective and least urgent responses that council could have taken.”
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