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Defund the Police movement has given Portland the title of Murder City USA
Dennis Wyatt 2022
Dennis Wyatt

So what happens if city leadership constantly hammer all police for the sins of the relatively few and also underfund law enforcement?

The short answer: It becomes Portland.

The hotbed of the Defund the Police these days has to wrestle with the perception — and many say reality — of it becoming a cesspool of crime-related problems and a serious candidate for the title of Murder City USA.

It wasn’t too long ago Portland was considered one of the safest cities in the United States.

Portland averaged 21 homicides a year between 2020 and 2019.

The murder body count in 2022 was 92.

Portland’s homicide numbers reached 101 in 2022. That puts Portland in the  same league as Oakland with 119 last year and Sacramento with 110 homicides in 2022.

And for those that believe the reviews that San Francisco is the land of Mad Max these days, the city that is 50 percent larger in population than Portland had 55 murders in 2021 and 55 again in 2022.

Keep the San Francisco homicide numbers in mind for a second.

You will see what the real difference is between the impacts of defunding the police and what many experts correctly warned was a massive decriminalization of drug laws.
But before getting to that, someone in the Black Lives Movement made a strategic error of catastrophic proportions when they came up with the catchy “Defund the Police” moniker to describe the intent of reform measures that the movement’s leadership espoused.

And they can’t walk it back given how ingrained it has become in the America political vernacular.

Some entities placed more emphasis on the actual three words “defund the police” than they did what originally — and rightfully so – was a call for stepped up policing reforms.

They were egged on by zealots — not as much as in the streets as on social media.

The message such efforts were delivering was simplistic and off target. It was essentially all police are bad and therefore we need less of them.

The reality is there are people who should not be police officers. And a among those, there are officers who commit acts under color of authority that demand the maximum prosecution allowed under the law.

That said, easily much more than 90 percent do their job day in and day out properly and do so with respect of others and with honor.

The non-stop vilifying of all police by a number of people isn’t exactly a great way to encourage people to consider a career in law enforcement or even stay in it.

Portland 2020 cut police funding despite the fact the city was adding thousands of people.

The council action in Portland — that pandered to protestors in that city demanding police be defunded — led to the disbanding of a unit focused on gangs and gun violence.

Portland then went from 29 murders a year to 101 murders a year.

The simple math is less police means more mayhem.

But the more accurate answer is centered around targeting enforcement efforts on the 10 percent of the criminal element that is responsible for committing 90 percent of the crimes.

In otherwards, targeted enforcement aimed at gun violence and egregious gang activity works.

Yes, there are clearly incidents where you can point to where police crossed way over the line. The death of George Floyd underscores that point.

There is a legitimate point that enforcement is not measured when profiling is used.

Profiling is an effective enforcement tool when done properly and used with restraint. That is clear.

But it is also true when profiling is used incorrectly and recklessly it becomes criminal.

Reform is needed to reach the proper balance needed to protect the community and protect the rights of individuals that  get snagged when a wide net is cast instead of one that is laser focused.

The knee-jerk reaction to cut funding coupled with the deafening social media chorus slamming all police carte blanche has created a double whammy for Portland.

Portland in March had 801 sworn officers. Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said the number should be more like 1,100.

The problem is not a lot of people are eager to become Portland police officers these days for obvious reasons.

Portland wasn’t immune from serious homeless issues, property crimes, burglary and retail theft before the Defund the Police movement caught traction and cut the city’s police budget.

But now those issues have multiplied like a wildfire fanned by winds moving through a drought-ravaged Sierra forest in August.

Having less police doesn’t help.

But there is plenty of evidence that decriminalizing the possession of hard drugs as Oregon voters did in 2020 is the primary contributing factor for the surge in less than lethal crime.

And while San Francisco for all practical purposes has done the same thing with drug crimes by the district attorney’s office opting not to prosecute, the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors refrained from cutting police funding as activists demanded.

Yes, the SF Supervisors were moving in that direction but then reversed course.

Credit San Francisco politicians for not being so far wrapped up in the political posturing of the hard left that they can’t be pragmatic.

People, as they say, vote with their feet.

Portland lost 8,308 people between July 1, 2021 and July 1, 2022 based on Census Bureau estimates.

That puts it at number six on the list of the 50 largest cities with the largest population loss.

And while it is behind Los Angeles at No. 4 (down 15,748 residents) and San Jose at No. 5 (down 10,233 residents) based on Portland’s population of 635,037 it lost a higher percentage at of its population than the two Northern California cities.

Even less people fled Oakland that came in at No. 11 with a loss of 5,736 residents.

Since 2020, Portland has lost 17,400 residents or the equivalent of the entire City of Ripon population.

And while the pandemic with downtown office closures is a factor in all the listed cities, Portland stands out for another reason.

It was the city on the list that by far enjoyed the population growth between 2000 and 2020 growing by 23 percent.

Reform, and not defunding, is the answer.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people nationwide have paid with their lives for those who deliberately picked an incendiary slogan and used it as 24/7 jack hammer to force as many elected officials as possible into submission.