A year after defunding the police by $15 million, Portland Mayor asks for a more than $5 million increase

by mcardinal

Matt Bush, FISM News


Almost one year to the date after defunding the police bureau in Portland, Oregon by $15 million, Mayor Ted Wheeler is now reversing course. Yesterday Wheeler asked for more than $5 million in funding to invest in body-worn cameras and hiring new officers.

As reported previously by FISM, Portland is coming off its most violent year on record with over 1,000 shootings in Portland in 2020 alone. The city has also recorded 72 homicides to date in 2021, already surpassing the city’s all-time high of 66 for a full year in 1987.

In a recent press conference, Wheeler said, “Business owners have closed up shop, for fear of doing business in high risk areas. Commuters fear for their safety, whether taking public transport or going by foot. Parents are scared to let their children play outside.”

It is important to note, however, that these calls for increased funding for the police bureau came just one day after strong showings at the polls by other mayoral candidates in liberal cities. Eric Adams in New York and Bruce Harrell in Seattle, who rejected calls to defund the police and pledged more resources for public safety, look like winners in their respective races. Also in Seattle, a law-and-order Republican ran away with the vote for city attorney, despite Seattle being a poster-child for anti-police demonstrations. 

Last year, after George Floyd’s death and in the midst of a global pandemic, there was an outcry to “defund the police.” As a result of multiple high-profile riots, demonstrations, and protests calling for the city council to take away funding and resources from the police bureau, Portland officials slashed the police budget by $15 million. 

One of last year’s key cuts which eliminated the city’s Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT), has directly led to the severe rise in crime. Acting Lieutenant Ken Duilio and former member of the GVRT, has already been tasked to lead a new team focused on stopping the increase of gun violence in the city.

After cutting over $15 million and at least 84 positions from the police force in 2021, City Commissioner Mingus Mapps told Fox 26, “For a city our size, you’d expect us to have about 1,200 cops. Portland is hovering around 700 cops as of today.”

Some of Wheeler’s proposed increases include increasing the police bureau staffing by 300 officers in the next three years and hiring back 25 retired officers as quickly as possible. The AP reports that since August 2020, about 200 officers left the force with the majority citing low morale and lack of support as the primary reason.

Duilio said, after Wheeler’s press conference, “It feels like the tide is starting to turn a little bit. From kind of the anti-police defundment to, hey, we’ve got to right-size the police department.”

With the public’s overwhelming backing of pro-police officials on Tuesday, it appears that other government officials who were laissez-faire at best on backing the police, like Wheeler, may now reverse course to save their political careers.