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Portland launches crime crackdown as anti-police politics fail miserably

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
April 27, 2023

Cries in Portland to defund the police back in 2020 led to Portland's city commissioners voting to cut the police budget by $15 million and disband its Gun Violence Team. Fast forward three years and now Portland has the lowest number of sworn officers the city has seen since the 1980s, but crime is surging.

Crime surge taking a toll on Portland community

The crime surge led to the police budget getting restored in 2022, but there has been a great deal of damage already done ranging from an all-time record for murders in 2021 to theft driving businesses to leave the area to the homeless. There has also been increased crime against families and individuals living in Portland, according to the Daily Mail.

"For me, I wonder what the [police] profession is going to be 20 years from now if we're having these challenges on a nationwide scale. Are we going to be able to recruit enough people to save our cities?" Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell told the AP.

Portland has lost 237 sworn officers due to resignations or retirements since 2020.

After experiencing decades of growth, the increase in crime caused people to move away, which caused the population to decrease 1.7 percent in 2021, according to the LA Times.

Unresolved crime increase and homelessness driving businesses away

Businesses are also leaving the area because of its unresolved issues with theft and homelessness, according to the Daily Mail.

Umpqua Bank is one such businesses among several that have left the area.

A popular retail store that carried the Rains clothing brand shut down after being experiencing 15 break ins over the course of about two months.

A note on the company's front door blatantly calls out "unrelenting criminal behavior" and "escalating safety issues for our employees" as the reason it has closed its doors.

A community Nike store also closed due to weeks of shoplifting that just got out of control, as well as the community ice cream shop Salt & Straw.

Salt & Straw store owner Marcy Landolfo was also outspoken about why the store closed, detailing her explanation in a notice on the store's window.

"Our city is in peril. Small businesses (and large) cannot sustain doing business in our city's current state. We have no protection, or recourse, against the criminal behavior that goes unpunished.

"Do not be fooled into thinking that insurance companies cover losses. We have sustained 15 break-ins … we have not received any financial reimbursement since the 3rd," Landolfo wrote.

Two community Walmart stores also closed. Walmart reportedly contacted Portland's City Mayor Ted Wheeler regarding an increase in retail theft, which was impacting its financial performance. Walmart asked him him to address the problem, but still ended up leaving the community when the issue remained unresolved.

Portland's homelessness epidemic

Homelessness is also on the rise in Portland. There are over 700 homeless encampments scattered within 150 square miles around the radius of the downtown area.

Wheeler was accused of laughing at a woman who confronted him about the homelessness crisis in Portland.

"It very much begins to erode that whole progressive ethos that the city has had," historian Chet Orloff, adjunct professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University told the LA Times.