A two-fer, first John Sexton at Haut Hair, With violent crime rising, size of Portland police department is still shrinking
You almost have to feel sorry for the city of Portland. The city is experiencing record levels of violent crime even as it struggles to maintain the lowest number of police officers it has had since the late 80s/early 90s when the population of of the city was much smaller than it is now.And Jazz Shaw, Oregon businesses sue to stop new climate package
Beleaguered Mayor Ted Wheeler, who jumped on board the defund the police bandwagon back in 2020, has been trying to address both problem for the past year and so far he has very little to show for it. When it comes to violent crime, the city set a record for the number of shootings in 2021 and is currently on pace to surpass that record by double digits in 2022.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said for 2022, there have been an average of nearly 29 shootings per week in Portland.At the same press conference where Chief Lovell made that announcement, the mayor was asked why his efforts to combat violent crime didn’t seem to be working. Mayor Wheeler rambled for a bit and then mentioned the elephant in the room.
If this trend continues, Chief Lovell says there will be a little over 1,500 shootings this year, which is a 14% increase compared to last year and a 266% increase from 2019.
“I’m determined to see gun violence reduced in our community and obviously that would happen much faster if we had more officers,” Wheeler said. Later in response to another question he added, “Portland has a critical shortage of law enforcement personnel right now. We are in a 28-year low on a per capita basis.”
In fact the police force is now down to 777 officers. No one is saying the words “defund the police” but that’s what this is about. That and another word Mayor Wheeler never wants to say, “Antifa.” Portland police spent months battling violent goons in the street and got nothing for it but more criticism and the threat of a class action lawsuit by the protesters. So let’s not forget that less than two years ago it certainly was not considered obvious that more officers would mean less crime. On the contrary, the consensus in the city and in many other parts of the nation, spurred by progressive activists and Black Lives Matter protesters, was that we could have less crime if we had fewer officers.
That’s why in June 2020 Mayor Wheeler announced he was cutting funds for school resource officers and also for the city’s Gun Violence Reduction Team, the very team assigned the task of taking guns off the streets and keeping shootings under control. Those funding cuts spurred resignations and retirements and also resulted in some layoffs as Chief Lovell explained, “In 2020 when we took a budget cut, we did everything we could to not layoff people but the handful of people we did layoff were from our personnel division and they were our background investigators.”
In other words, the people needed to make it possible to hire new officers were laid off. Only last Thursday, March 17, 2022, did the city hire 7 staffers to make it possible to once again start the hiring police officers. What have they been doing about the staffing crisis prior to last week?
In October 2021 Mayor Wheeler announced plans to rehire officers who’d retired. Rehiring those officers wouldn’t require background checks because they had already been checked and had worked for the city. But that effort was a complete failure. After reaching out to 81 former officers, exactly two expressed interest in returning to Portland and exactly zero actually returned. “At this point it hasn’t worked the way we would have hoped,” the Mayor admitted.
Meanwhile, Chief Lovell explained that another wave of retirements was coming this July. He said as many as 80 officers would be leaving the force which would reduce the number of officers close to 700 for a city of nearly 650,000 people.
For several years, Democrats in Oregon attempted to implement some form of “cap and trade” program at the state level, intending to reduce carbon emissions. Even in a blue state like Oregon, however, they couldn’t muster the votes to pass it. So last year, Governor Kate Brown established an administrative panel to study the situation and come up with a plan that could be put in place. The resultant “Climate Action Plan” turned out to be an expensive mess, incorporating some of the worst ideas from the federal Renewable Fuel Standard and placing expensive limitations and requirements on nearly every aspect of business being done in the state. This week, a coalition of trade groups representing a dozen industries went to court to stop the plan, claiming that the state had overstepped the bounds of its authority. (Associated Press)A coalition of businesses wants a court to block Oregon’s plan to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.The groups in this coalition represent a large swath of all of the employers in Oregon, including farmers, ranchers, loggers, fuel suppliers, and even retail business groups. It’s a disparate collection, but they all share one thing in common. If they are forced to comply with these new rules, their costs will rise dramatically and many will likely need to start laying off workers.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reports the state’s new Climate Action Plan administrative rules, passed in December, target a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels and natural gas by 2050.
In a petition for judicial review filed Friday, 12 industry trade groups say the rules “hold fuel suppliers directly accountable” for the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.
They voted poorly.