Portland, OR – Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has proposed slashing another $18 million from the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) budget and giving it to people in need of housing and food assistance due to COVID-19.
“We need a budget that reflects the reality many Portlanders face, and one that reflects the demands of the moment,” Hardesty said in a statement, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
She touted that the budget cuts and amendments she proposed “are people-centered.”
“They offer a chance for us to make sure people are sheltered and have food in their stomachs during this economic downturn, and invest in the community and community safety as demanded by our constituents,” Hardesty declared.
Hardesty was already successful in her push to defund the PPB by $15 million earlier this year, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
The massive cut brought three of the department’s specialty units to an abrupt end.
Hardesty outlined her latest round of proposed PPB budget cuts in a memo to her fellow commissioners on Oct. 19.
Under the commissioner’s plan, the city would pull over $760,000 in funding from the PPB’s SWAT team and Rapid Response Team, the latter of which is responsible for handling crowd control, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
The department could opt to continue the teams, Hardesty reasoned, but would need to find the money to do so from somewhere else.
Earlier this summer, the commissioners already axed eight positions from the SWAT unit.
“To the extent that PPB needs to improve upon its procedural justice in order to reclaim some semblance of legitimacy with our community and we see no evidence of their willingness to do this at this time under current leadership, we must defund these groups and change the ways in which PPB interacts with the public,” Hardesty declared.
She further called on her fellow commissioners to permanently impose the $4.6 million police budget cut that was previously approved as a “one-time” deal, and urged them to eliminate 42 vacant sworn positions altogether.
A record number of officers retired from the force in August, and another group is expected to follow suit in January.
The city also plans to cut 84 PPB officer positions on July 1 of next year, The Oregonian reported.
Department understaffing and consequential overtime have contributed to large overtime payouts in recent months.
“There’s a lot of people working a lot of hours because there’s just a lot of work to be done, and we’re limited on the number of cops we have,” PPB Sergeant Ken Duilio recently told The Oregonian.
Hardesty’s proposal called for an end to an agreement between the PPB and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office, under which the police department has been providing three investigators to issue subpoenas.
She further called for “the elimination of secondary employment” and a further reduction of overtime for officers, which she estimated would provide another $2.5 million in funds to be reallocated.
An additional $2.5 million would be pulled by reducing “funding for military like supplies and munitions,” Hardesty added.
Altogether, the commissioner’s proposal would reduce the PPB’s budget by $18,022,101, and would strip the department of 42 sworn positions.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly has already announced her intent to back Hardesty’s plan, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
The package of amendments will need three votes in order to pass.
During a press conference on Oct. 12, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler indicated it would take a lot to convince him to back a plan to defund the PPB any further than he already has, the Portland Mercury reported.
“Any further reductions [of the PPB budget] are going to have to meet a very high bar, from my perspective,” Wheeler said at the time. “It’s going to have to be clear that the reductions are needed, wanted, or appropriate given the real public safety needs in that community.”
The council is scheduled to vote on the matter on Nov. 4, KATU reported.