This is a tough week to ask for more cops.
The Portland Police Bureau is asking City Hall for a budget increase to hire 93 more officers. That would mean cutting budgets elsewhere—probably from Portland Parks & Recreation.
The mayor is on board. On April 7, KOIN-TV reported that Mayor Ted Wheeler had recruited citizens to lobby for a larger police force.
The shooting, of a man who appeared to be in mental crisis, has reignited questions about the Police Bureau's response to mental illness that is at the center of the city's legal settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice—and City Hall's oversight of the police.
WW asked candidates for the City Council how they would respond to the budget request.
Question: Do you support increasing the Portland Police Bureau's budget so the city can hire 93 more officers?
Leaning toward yes.
"When officers are overworked and over-exhausted, their ability to make sound, rational decisions decreases and the likelihood of implicit biases affecting decisions increases. However, increasing the PPB budget means raising taxes or cutting funding for the other general fund programs, primarily parks, housing and fire, and I need more information to support that shift in resources."
"To do community policing for a city the size of Portland, we need police who are from the community, look like the communities they serve, with sufficient numbers to get to know the community and keep our community safe. We need to invest in training and mental health professionals, in demilitarizing our police force, and better community oversight, so our police do a much better job protecting and serving all of us, housed or unhoused."
"When people call 911, they have a right to expect an immediate and appropriate response. The current staffing shortages put us all at risk."
[Note: After press deadlines, Smith's campaign spokesman Jake Weigler asked that her response be characterized as "yes, along with additional training" instead of "Not now," which is the answer that ran in the print edition of WW.]
Yes, along with additional training.
"I am in support of making investments in the hiring of more mental health crisis intervention specialists to support people who may be experiencing a mental health crisis, additional cultural competency and sensitivity training for our officers, so that the practice of disproportionate stops of our black and brown neighbors discontinue. After we've made these investments, I would support additional officers if the focus is on community policing."
Jo Ann Hardesty
"The DOJ investigation in 2012 showed Portland police use excessive force against persons with mental health issues. Since then, almost everyone killed by Portland police has had a mental health issue, so more money and training hasn't changed the outcome for community members.
"I don't believe they are understaffed. I believe they are poorly assigned and not held accountable for outcomes. We can't afford to continue to reward police for doing an inadequate job with the limited resources we have."
City Commissioner Nick Fish
"The independent budget office recommends hiring 14 new officers this year, but even that smaller number would mean tough cuts elsewhere. I believe in community policing and creative strategies to keep our neighborhoods safe and livable. But as a former parks commissioner, I do not support cuts to parks programs our families, children and seniors depend on."
"Communities are safer when people have a home to live in, good-paying jobs, and fully funded schools. We should be investing more money in improving and supporting our communities, not policing them. The Portland police continue to use excessive force and disproportionately target black people and other marginalized communities."
"I must stress that our public safety is in danger from police to begin with, and now, Ted wants to increase 100 more officers? No. Just…no. Not after the fact that Ted ordered anti-houseless laws which enable the police to do houseless sweeps, take away Village of Hope and criminalize houseless people. Why aren't we increasing social services? Why are we not housing the houseless? Why aren't we increasing mental health services?"