Since Portland voted to defund and disband its Gun Violence Reduction Team, effective July 1, 2020, the average number of murders has risen by 1175% compared to the six months before the vote. Lindsay Schnell reports for USA Today:
Crime is up all over the country, and has been since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. But there is a a certain sad irony in Portland, long considered a safe, desirable place to live. Already, the city has tallied 67 homicides for 2021, breaking a 34-year-old record of 66. Last year, 55 homicides was a 26-year high in the city.
The numbers alone are troubling, but even more worrisome when compared with other similarly sized cities, where violent crime numbers are considerably less, including Seattle and Boston. In Portland, long considered a liberal stronghold in America, some community leaders and officers feel that police defunding efforts in summer 2020 may have backfired, at least somewhat. With fewer officers on the street, violence has escalated significantly.
City defunds shooting prevention team
Portland’s gun violence problems can be traced back, at least partially, to the killing of George Floyd in May 2020. Floyd’s murder, at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, sparked a nationwide racial reckoning as hundreds of thousands took to the streets.
In Portland, a predominantly white city, protesters rallied for more than 130 days straight.
A few months after Floyd’s death, as national conversations about police bias dominated public meetings, the Portland City Council on July 1, 2020, voted to defund and disband Portland’s Gun Violence Reduction Team, the task force devoted to preventing and investigating shootings.
The effect in the streets was immediate: From Jan. 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, Portland had just four murders. In the following 12-month period, Portland tallied 94 homicides.
When city leaders put scoring political points ahead of public safety, is it any wonder people want to escape?