In an Aug. 6 press conference, Mayor Ted Wheeler said the city is considering reinstating parts of the Portland Police Bureau's Gun Violence Reduction Team. Wheeler agreed to defund the unit in June, following protests against police brutality and long-standing criticism that the unit targeted young Black men. His shift comes after 15 homicides in July, the largest number of homicides in one month the city has seen in 30 years. City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty challenged Wheeler's claim that disbanding the unit caused the spike in homicides. "Gun violence is a symptom of social ills," she told WW, "and the one thing that is clear is that police are not social workers, and policing will not replace the need for investments and resources for our community." WW reported the debate on wweek.com. Here's what our readers had to say:
Ryan McKenzie via Facebook: "Ted has no spine. He has refused to show any leadership. Props on Jo Ann Hardesty for at least coming with some data and some real talk."
Dustin Kight via Facebook: "Where's the proof that the GVRT has anything to do with the uptick in violence? I mean, it's not like there's a pandemic that's causing massive upheaval, job loss, anxiety, etc. But, sure, a small unit recently disbanded is obviously the more logical drive."
@writeo via Facebook: "Do they believe there was a pent-up demand for murders, unleashed when the team dissolved?"
James Robert via Facebook: "Agree that correlation does not equal causation. However, it could have something to do with the City Council 'demagoguing' the police and the police having to deal with riots instead of normal calls. Tends to embolden the criminals as they fill the void that's left by the police."
TK via wweek.com: "Yeah, Ted, it's magic…guns just appeared in our hands like 'poof' when the task force was disbanded. If only the omnipotent pre-cog cops were there to stop this!"
Big Biscuit via wweek.com: "Why is it so hard to understand that there are bad people in the world and law enforcement is how they are dealt with? I guess Wheeler and Hardesty think a 'social worker' can magically appear at the point of the shooting and talk the shooter out of their crime?"
@FecklessBoomers via Twitter: "It was literally defunded because police on the special unit were being racist, racially profiling, and/or dissolving goodwill in the BIPOC communities. In 2019, PPB was still disproportionately arresting and endangering the BIPOC community. How does reinstating racists help?"
@lechuga_joseph via Twitter: "Gun violence is on the rise in all major cities. I don't think they all cut funding on gun violence task forces. Also, poverty and eviction rates are up. Maybe that's a connection, just sayin'."
Josh Henderson via Facebook: "There is some evidence to suggest that more police on patrol reduces instances of crime. The problem is that police are paid bonuses per head to destroy lives and feed people into the prison industrial complex."
@thomas_traciee via Twitter: "Stop putting a Band-Aid on an issue that requires surgical intervention. The disparities in this town need addressing, not a damn racially profiling, devoid-of-compassion police task force."
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