Days after Portland recorded its 20th homicide, Mayor Ted Wheeler said Thursday he’ll seek $2 million in one-time funding to allow more proactive policing on city streets with greater civilian oversight to try to stem a growing wave of gun violence.
The mayor made the announcement alongside religious and community leaders, who urged city officials to take immediate action to prevent more people from dying in shootings, particularly young Black and brown people who have been disproportionately affected by the violence.
At some perhaps indeterminate point, the progressive left in this country may figure out that the police are the good guys.
The police chief has asked that the new uniformed team consist of two sergeants and 12 officers, partly drawn from existing patrol staff. Lovell also has asked the city to consider allowing the Police Bureau to rehire retired officers on a temporary two-year basis to help staff the team.
Wheeler addressed the overarching question: How the new police approach would differ from the former police Gun Violence Reduction Team, disbanded in June by the City Council amid $15 million in budget cuts.
The key difference, he said, would be a new community oversight committee that would collect and publish statistics on the team’s arrests, stops and outcomes and help establish parameters for the police enforcement. The city would hire a data analyst to work directly with the committee outside of the Police Bureau. Committee members would have no ties to city government or the Police Bureau.
So better might have been not to cut the police budget by $15 million, not to eliminate the Gun Violence Reduction Team, and to instead institute an oversight committee. If Portland had done that last June, a lot more people—most of them minorities—would likely be alive.