In response to cries of systemic racism and white supremacy, a city cut the budget of its police force by a whopping $15 million. Shortly after, city officials began to regret their decision when they saw the community’s response.
Adhering to the doctrine of unconscious bias, Portland city officials voted to defund the police department by striking its budget by a devastating $15 million. Additionally, the city disbanded the Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT) as part of the spending cuts, The Blaze reports. What resulted was exactly what the critics of the anti-police movement warned would happen.
As Critical Race Theory infects our institutions at nearly every level, entire establishments are being dismantled. Statistics, research, and common sense have been sidestepped in order to extinguish the systemic racism boogeyman that supposedly haunts every institution that doesn’t produce equitable results. Of course, at the center of the campaign is law enforcement.
Just months after defunding the police department, gun violence and other violent crime in Portland began to climb at an alarming rate. In fact, shootings far surpassed any prediction critics could have made, the Associated Press reports.
More people died of gunfire last year in Portland — 40 — than the entire tally of homicides the previous year. The number of shootings — 900 — was nearly 2 1/2 times higher than the year before. The spike has continued this year, with more than 150 shootings, including 45 people wounded and 12 killed so far.
Of course, members of the community connected the dots, leading them to believe that the budget cuts from the city’s “defund the police” movement are to blame. Specifically, locals criticized the dissolution of the GVRT as part of the reason for the surge in gun violence.
“Without a doubt, I think it is a possibility that my nephew could still be alive if the GVRT was not dissolved,” said Elmer Yarborough, a crisis response volunteer for the police department. “I cannot say for sure if he would, but what I will tell you is had it not been my nephew that was saved, it probably could have saved the life of someone else.”
As crime began to escalate, dissent grew louder, particularly from the black community. Initially, black residents were concerned about being racially targeted by police officers. Now, they are worried that they may be a victim of gun violence from within their own community, as more than half of all homicides involve minority victims.
Following the backlash, the city decided to remedy the skyrocketing violence by heading back to the basics and introducing a gun violence task force called the Enhanced Community Safety Team, KATU-TV reports. Although the unit has a new name, activists lamented that it functions practically the same as the now-defunct GVRT.
Unsurprisingly, Democrat Mayor and City Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler defended the decision to defund the police, arguing that the gun crime surge has nothing to do with eradicating the department’s gun crime unit. However, he provided no evidence to back up his claim.
“I believe if the GVRT were [around] today, we would still see a substantial, if not identical increase, in shootings in Portland,” Wheeler said. “This is clearly part of a larger national trend.”
Contradicting Wheeler’s allegation, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell explained that it’s nonsensical to think that criminals aren’t empowered by the weakening of law enforcement.
“I’d say they’re more emboldened, maybe, to be out with guns,” Lovell said. “They know there’s not someone watching. There’s no real deterrent there.”
Common sense tells us that criminals will only be emboldened to commit crimes if they know there is no one to stop them or punish them. While there may be flaws in the system that must be resolved, completely dismantling or financially crippling the institution will only exacerbate these issues.
Tragically, it is the people who are most concerned with being abused by law enforcement who are the most vulnerable to the abuse from violent criminals, which is why we’re seeing a spike in violent crimes against minorities following the defunding and disbanding of police departments.