The city of Portland is an interesting place, and I mean that in the Chinese curse sense of the term.
It wasn’t that long ago when riots rocked the city nightly; when Antifa mobs tried to destroy federal buildings and the city did absolutely nothing to try and mitigate it.
Ah, good times.
Now, the city that wanted their police hamstrung as much as possible is now looking at a new unit dedicated to combatting so-called gun crime.
When Portland Police Bureau leadership asked officers to staff a new squad designed to address gun violence and the proliferation of the deadly weapons, only four people initially raised their hands.
Officer Chris Baten was one of them.
The Focused Intervention Team was off to a rocky start, plagued by community concerns that the squad was merely a hastily camouflaged reconfiguration of prior Gang Enforcement and Gun Violence Reduction teams that had been accused of racial profiling. Officers, meanwhile, worried that the assignment could be a career-killer because of a lack of City Hall support.
Asked if the new team has the support of elected leaders, Police Chief Chuck Lovell answered bluntly in the affirmative. He said the team will focus on guns, not gangs, but acknowledged that “we’ve done this work before.”
“With the Gang Enforcement Team, with the Gun Violence Reduction Team, those were good officers doing good work, and that work proved unsustainable,” he told reporters as the new team rolled out. “We have to remain flexible and try to come at this work in a data-driven way and be as effective as possible.”
The Focused Intervention Team will work in tandem with the bureau’s Enhanced Community Safety Team, which was formed in 2021, and fall under the agency’s Strategic Services division. The team is led by a captain, lieutenant and two sergeants, and has 12 officers plus four back-up officers, the Oregonian/OregonLive previously reported.
The idea is that this will be a different team who will do work in a different way, but ultimately, it’s not all that different.
In time, they’ll do what the Gun Violence Reduction Team did that worked, add some other stuff that may work and may not, and then tell everyone they’re completely different.
And I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing.
While it shouldn’t matter, this is Portland. The public there isn’t exactly pro-cop. They’d just as soon see every one of these officers be fired just because they opted to wear a badge for a living.
But since Portland also loves them some gun control, and gun control can only be enforced on a population via a police force, they might want to rethink at least one of those stances.
I know which I’d prefer them rethinking, but I doubt they care much what I have to say.
Will this new unit actually accomplish anything? We’ll have to see. However, if they’re too effective, the local politics in Portland will likely cause their hard work to blow up in their faces.
Sad, but you know it’s true.