Officers who serve on the Portland Police Bureau’s specialized crowd control unit, known as the Rapid Response Team, voted to resign from the team during a meeting Wednesday night then alerted the chief’s office, a police lieutenant and the mayor’s office have confirmed.
The unprecedented move by officers and sergeants to disband their own team came a day after a team member, Officer Cody Budworth, was indicted, accused of fourth-degree assault stemming from a baton strike against a protester last summer. A year ago, about 70 members comprised the team.
I am surprised anyone would want to be a police officer after all the abuse they’ve been through in the past year. Given the lack of support on the part of the District Attorney, the Mayor, the City Council, and large swaths of the public at large, who would choose to go into law enforcement in Portland? It seems like you’d have to be nuts.
Like many major US cities, Portland is demonstrably less safe than it was a year ago. The murder rate has skyrocketed since the disbanding and defunding of the Gun Violence Task Force. Night after night of riots, almost all in which the perpetrators went unpunished, has sapped the will and energy from law enforcement, and understandably so. What is the point of attempting to enforce laws when there is no punishment for those who break them?
Some have tried to blame America’s crime wave on the pandemic, but the surge in violence an American phenomenon:
While murders were surging all over the United States, our neighbors to the north — Canadians, who live in the country that is socially and culturally most analogous to our own — saw no similar large jump. Canada had 680 homicides in 2020, up just a little from 676 in 2019. Mexico, one country to our south, saw a 0.4% decline in murders last year.
El Salvador, one of the murder capitals of the world, saw its homicide rate drop to a historic low. At least some decline in homicide was recorded in much of the world….
What we do know is that we’ve seen massive spikes in murder a few cities in recent history. They happened after a viral incident of police abuse followed by a government investigation. The Harvard economist Roland Freyer studied the case of five cities where that combination events led first to a pullback of proactive policing — police getting out there less and making fewer stops — and then a huge surge of killings.
Over the past year, it’s possible that we’ve seen that sort of effect on a nationwide scale. Police, increasingly worried that they’ll face protests, investigations, or prosecution even for doing their job correctly, are pulling back from proactive policing. That’s the conclusion of a paper by Paul Cassell, who calls this the “Minneapolis Effect,” because it kicked in after the death of George Floyd.
What’s more there’s evidence in the other direction as well: Increase police presence and crime goes down. From “Reports show shootings in northeast Salem neighborhoods slashed by half after police increase presence:”
Data from the police department shows calls of confirmed shootings dropped by 53% — from 43 between December and January, to 20 between February and March.
The shootings included 10 injuries and homicides in December and January, and seven in February and March. Other types of shootings included suicides and shots fired at buildings and cars.
Shootings jumped by 131% from December to January. Salem police spokesperson Lt. Treven Upkes attributes the spike, in part, to protests as well as a small group of the same individuals involved in the incidents.
“We saw it starting to climb up and then we had an intervention there at the beginning of February, made enforcement actions and then we saw a rapid decline in those incidents once we were able to identify people and have (officer) presence out there and try and work with the neighborhoods,” Upkes said.
Proponents of defunding the police have gotten their wish in many municipalities. I wonder how many are now willing to admit that their social experiment has been an abject failure.