How many murders does Portland need before it stops spitting on police?
Some people have to learn things the hard way. A case in point is Portland, Oregon. The politicians continue making poor decisions when it comes to public safety, and the city residents continue voting them back into office.
Now those decisions are weighing heavily on the city, but it is going to be hard for the politicians to walk them back, particularly because they will search desperately for a way to do it without accepting any blame.
Once again, the city set a new record for the number of homicides last year. A fatal stabbing in early December 2022 became the city's 91st homicide of the year and broke the previous year's total, which itself was a record year. The previous record had been 70 homicides in 1987.
It was not a record anyone wanted to break. Things didn't end there, either. The city finished out the year with 101 homicides.
Damala Badon, the mother of the 101st victim, told The Oregonian/OregonLive, "At some point, we have to be tired of burying our children, having our children's names turned into hashtags."
She is right.
Residents who are seeing their neighborhoods turned into war zones because of poor political decisions have to demand action and vote people into office who will take action to make their cities safer.
The problem is that there aren't enough people doing that. Chloe Eudaly, the city commissioner, who voted against large cuts in the police budget in 2020, was voted out of office rather than supported in her efforts to protect citizens.
The city had understaffed its police force for years. Then, in 2020, politicians reduced the police budget by $27 million because "defund the police" was the politically correct thing to do after the death of George Floyd. One councilperson tweeted proudly of the cuts. She had actually wanted to see nearly twice as much cut.
Manhattan Institute fellow John Ketcham told the DCNF, "A tripling in the annual number of homicides since 2019 — far above the national trend — has further diverted officers from responding to other important calls. Some city leaders' repeated criticisms of the police have compounded understaffing to dampen morale further in the bureau, resulting in unprecedented struggles to hire and retain qualified officers. While the latest budget restored police funding, it will take time and political will to repair mutual bonds of trust."
In the face of the growing crime problem, politicians were virtually forced to add police officers last year. While it seems unlikely that adding 20 officers to the 773 sworn officers will help much, it was a baby step in the right direction.
They need more, though, which will be hard to get as long as politicians and activists call the police criminals while failing to prosecute actual criminals.
"Everyone knows that Portland elected officials embraced the 'defund the police' narrative in 2020, which has resulted in budget cuts, loss of police officers (to other jurisdictions or retirement), and difficulties in police recruitment," John Charles, president of the Oregon-based Cascade Policy Institute, told the DCNF. "But it's not clear how to reverse that, or whether reversing it would actually lead to fewer homicides."
In part because prosecutors aren't actually prosecuting criminal cases. This only encourages criminals because they know they can get away with the crimes.
The citizens of Portland are reaping what they sowed, and unfortunately for people like Badon, they aren't tired of burying their children yet.
Michael A. Letts is the CEO and founder of In-VestUSA, a national grassroots non-profit organization helping hundreds of communities provide thousands of bulletproof vests for their police forces through educational, public relations, sponsorship, and fundraising programs.
Image via Needpix.