— D.R. Couric (@DRCouric) May 19, 2021
According to a recent poll commissioned by The Oregonian, three-fourths of Portland-area residents said that they do not want to see policing in the city dip below its current levels, with a several stating that they support an increase in police.
From April 30 to May 6, 2021, DHM Research conducted a survey of 600 residents in the Portland metro region. The survey consisted of 600 adult residents in the Portland metro region with half of them in the city of Portland.
When asked in the survey, “Do you think downtown Portland is more or less safe than it was 12 months ago?” 42% of those survey said that it is “much less safe” and only two percent stated it was “much safer.”
Fewer than a quarter of survey participants in Portland and even less among suburban residents, believe that there should be fewer police officers. This important findings coming as activists and some civic leaders in Portland continue to demand further reductions in the police force.
Survey participant Brandon Lane, 61, said that it makes sense to beef up the city’s police force amid a large spike in shootings, a homelessness and addiction crisis, and a downtown battered by a pandemic and months of destructive protests.
“I’m not sure that it needs to be drastically higher, but if we defund or reduce the headcount any further, we’re likely to be inviting bigger problems.”
— American Warrior AJ🇺🇸 (@TX_VisionShock) May 17, 2021
Fox News reported that the poll found that in addition to 75% of respondents who disapprove of the city’s handling of the homelessness situation, 68% also stated that they are not happy with how protests and riots have been handled.
Residents surveyed about the city’s downtown said that they plan to visit less frequently, mainly citing the homelessness and rioting that has plagued the area for nearly a year.
Respondents to the poll used words like “dirty,” “trash,” “riots,” and “unsafe” to describe the heart of the city, which appears to have deteriorated during the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest of the past year.
Downtown Portland, once a cultural and tourist center, is now filled with homeless tents, smashed windows, graffiti, trash, and boarded-up businesses.
The city has yet to quell continued destruction caused by smaller groups who go through the city purporting to demonstrate for racial justice, smashing windows, and tagging buildings in the process.
Residents also expressed frustration with the apparent lack of arrests related to the destruction. Respondent Laurie Lago, 75, who lives near where the protests have been centered, said:
“There seems in the last year to be this permission to do violence.”
— Research of Substance (@ROS_Research) May 19, 2021
In response to the survey results, Daryl Tuner, the executive director of the Portland Police Association, the union that represents the city’s rank-and-file officers, said:
“Residents want to be safe and protected and they don’t have that feeling right now.”
He added that City Council trimmed the police budget by $15 million during summer 2020. He stated:
“This message is clearly not being heard by Portland’s elected leaders, who only listen to those who talk the loudest.”
After the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office refused to file charges against many of the rioters arrested for assaulting police and destroying property during 2020, federal prosecutors stepped up at the urging of then-President Donald Trump and filed charges against 97 suspects.
However, under President Joe Biden’s administration, 58 of those cases have been deferred or outright dismissed. Felony assaults on federal officers were the nexus for 16 of the 31 deferred cases.
Seven suspects plead guilty, but reportedly, only one will serve any prison time. Former acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chard Wolf, said in a statement:
“It’s offensive to all the men and women who risked their lives in Portland for 90 to 120 days or even longer in some cases, being attached night after night after night.”
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) May 18, 2021
In 2020, when the city cut $15 million from the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) budget, the move did away with school resource officers, the Gun Violence Reduction Team, and the Transit Division Program.
The Gun Violence Reduction Team was later brought back to help combat the surge in gun violence, but there was no additional funds to help support it.
In the meantime, city lawmakers dumped $6 million into adding 24 unarmed park rangers to patrol neighborhoods and parks as well as to help fund community organizations seeking to address violence in the community.