Crime in Portland, Oregon has gotten to the point that police say they can’t keep up with the number of reported shootings, stabbings, and other acts of violence, but three of the newest city council members are still resisting Mayor Ted Wheeler’s call to spend $2-million dollars to put a team of police officers on the streets dedicated to combat the rise in violent crime.
Instead, they’re proposing the city spend nearly $5-million on anti-violence programs and adding more patrols of park rangers in the city. Yeah, park rangers.
The memo, sent to Wheeler last week and obtained by WW through a public records request, recommends increasing foot patrols by Portland park rangers—”seven days a week, including graveyard shifts.” Those rangers aren’t armed but have the authority to kick people out of city parks, where several of the city’s most alarming homicides have occurred this year.
But the central thrust of the memo is that the city should take one part of Wheeler’s proposal from last month—increasing funding to contractors with the Office of Violence Prevention who counsel victims of shootings and try to prevent acts of vengeance—and amp up the spending even further.
“These immediate allocations must be different from their current contracts and provide as much flexibility to our partners as possible,” the proposal said. “Each grant may vary in ranges base on the number served.”
In addition to the $3.5 million in targeted investments to community organizations, the commissioners also recommended investing $600,000 in smaller or emerging contractors.
While I have no problem with supporting violence prevention programs that are proven to be effective and don’t involve any new gun control laws, given the increase in violent crime in the city since the Portland Police Bureau’s Gun Violence Reduction Team was disbanded, it’s downright goofy to suggest that there’s no need for additional police resources dedicated to taking the most prolific offenders off the street.
Replacing them with unarmed park rangers is even more ludicrous, but it’s completely unsurprising given the staggering rise in violent crime.
… the city is now grappling with an extraordinary wave of shootings: At last 18 gun homicides and 245 shootings in 2021 alone, a rate that would easily break decades of records.
That places Wheeler and his colleagues in a difficult spot: They want to stem the bloodshed, which is predominantly killing Black people, without returning to the heavy policing of Black people.
Wheeler debuted his plan last month, which featured a new Portland Police Bureau patrol unit that closely resembled the one he voted to eliminate last year.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty immediately opposed Wheeler’s idea. On Thursday, she hailed the counteroffer.
“This proposal is the kind of collaborative problem solving I expected from our historically diverse council where the majority are grounded in community,” Hardesty said in a statement to WW. “This City Council understands the urgency in acting to mitigate gun violence, and we are taking action. I am in full support of this proposal and hope council will bring this to a vote as soon as possible.”
Expecting unarmed park rangers to solve the problem of armed criminals is an indication that the city council may understand the “urgency in acting,” but they have absolutely no clue about what actually works to reduce violence. Targeted deterrence efforts aimed at the most violent and prolific offenders like Project Ceasefire have been shown to reduce homicides by more than 50% in some cities where it’s been implemented, but because the program involves arresting and prosecuting offenders who decide to keep shooting instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to turn their life around, it’s not something that city council members are even willing to consider.
Instead, they’ll do anything other than addressing the actual individuals responsible for these crimes, including putting more gun control laws in place without ever considering who exactly is supposed to enforce those new laws that they believe are part of the solution to the crime wave that their idiocy has helped to create.
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