Democratic Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler submitted a request to the Portland City Council on Thursday for a one-time $2 million expenditure for police, months after the council voted to cut nearly $16 million from the police bureauâ€™s budget.
Wheeler, who previously advocated for the Portland Police Bureauâ€™s budget to be cut, cited a dangerous surge in gun violence throughout the city as the primary reason for requesting the funds, according to theÂ Oregonian.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has requested $2 million in emergency funding for police following a continued spike in shootings & homicides. Last year, the city defunded millions from police & abolished the gun violence reduction team in response to BLM. https://t.co/GVs59VBMCD
— Andy NgÃ´ ðŸ³ï¸â€ðŸŒˆ (@MrAndyNgo) March 12, 2021
Portland has seen a total of 20 homicides and 208 shootings so far in the 2021 calendar year. In comparison, 2020 saw only a single homicide during the same period, despite the year ending with a 26 year high in overall homicides, according to theÂ Oregonian.
TheÂ mayorâ€™s decision to partially defund the policeÂ and disband the Portland Police Bureauâ€™s Gun Violence Reduction Team was in response toÂ protests for racial justiceÂ after the death ofÂ George Floyd. The recentÂ rise in violenceÂ prompted criticism of the cuts from local community groups as well as faith leaders.
â€œThe cutbacks created a vacuum that undermined public safety and the very communities whose voices the Council â€” and our community â€” seek to amplify,â€ wrote J. W. Matt Hennessee, chair of the Inter-Faith Peace & Action Collaborative, in aÂ letterÂ obtained by theÂ Oregonian.
â€œThere is just too much blood on the streets. We have got to be determined, we have got to be fed up about (the violence) and to want to do something about it. I see this issue in front of us as an opportunity to come together,â€ said Pastor Ed Williams in a statement toÂ KATU2.
Wheeler said he favored a plan proposed by Police Chief Chuck Lovell that called for a team of two sergeants and 12 officers to be established in order to address the growing gun violence. A â€œcommunity oversight boardâ€ comprised of independent citizens would be tasked with analyzing the new teamâ€™s arrests and stops, according to theÂ Oregonian.
If the city council approves Wheelerâ€™s request, the money would likely come from the cityâ€™s $6.3 million contingency reserve account, according to theÂ Oregonian.
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