The president of Portland, Oregon’s police union said in a blistering new statement that the city is on the brink of war.
“We need to talk about the elephant in the room: gun violence. We are on the precipice of a gang war,” said Daryl Turner, head of the Portland Police Association.
Police in the state’s largest city had responded to 357 shootings as of May 9, an increase of over 100 percent from the same time period the year prior.
Portland dealt with a jump in violence in 2020, with both shootings and murders skyrocketing, along with near-nightly riots that regularly diverted attention from 911 calls.
But the city has not brought back the Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT) and none of the new funding went to the police. That’s on top of the City Council cutting money for the police force in 2020.
Turner said that commissioners “only use data when it serves their political agendas” and called what he sees as a continued ignorance of statistics and shifting of blame unacceptable.
“The GVRT proactively policed with a holistic approach, building partnerships and relationships to get illegal guns off the street. It’s obvious to everyone except for City Council that more guns and increased gang activity mean more violence,” he said in the new statement.
City Council members are now focused on making additional cuts to the Portland Police Bureau’s budget, which will not address the gun violence epidemic, according to Turner.
“The answer is that our community deserves a fully staffed police force with a minimum of 1,000 officers and a full budget commitment to addressing gun violence, AND our community deserves adequate social service resources. Forcing us to choose one over the other is short-sighted. Social services and alternatives resources are not a replacement for police officers and common-sense public safety infrastructure,” he said.
A spokesman for Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat who also serves as police commissioner and sits on the council, declined to comment, referring The Epoch Times to Portland’s Office of Violence Prevention. The office did not respond to an inquiry.
Nike Green, the office’s director, last month called the jump in shootings “a public health crisis.” Green said the office was using “data, research, and evidence-based practices to prioritize partnerships designed to interrupt cycles of gun violence,” such as programs with violence interrupters, who seek to stop shootings before they happen.
The other city commissioners did not respond to requests for comment.
The council on Thursday approved a 2021 budget that includes a $3 million cut to the police bureau, local media reported.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, a Democrat, said in a statement that she appreciated the budget not adding “ongoing funds back into the Portland Police Bureau after council reallocated money from the bureau into the Portland Street Response and other community investments last year.”