Do More Police Officers Mean Less Gun Violence? We Asked City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Opponent Rene Gonzalez.

Do more police result in fewer gun deaths? We asked the incumbent commissioner and her opponent.

Even as city officials scramble to recruit and train police officers, Portland ranks 48th of 50 major American cities in cops per capita. Meanwhile, the city has experienced a historic surge in homicides and car thefts.

Are those two phenomena connected? We asked City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and her opponent in the Nov. 8 election, small-business owner and lawyer Rene Gonzalez.

We heard two very different answers.

Hardesty said there’s no correlation between an increased police force and a reduction in gun violence.

“We know that during economic uncertainty, violence goes up and it’s never had anything to do with how many police officers you have, or how many specialty units that you have,” Hardesty said.

Gonzalez strongly disagreed: “Less police officers makes this city less safe.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” Hardesty replied.

The exchange occurred as WW conducted interviews to determine who it will endorse ahead of November’s general election.

You can watch the full dialogue below.