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After vilifying police, Portland unsurprisingly can't find officers to fill unit to fight soaring crime


'They're demonizing and vilifying you, and then they want to put you in a unit where you're under an even bigger microscope'

Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Following more than a year of anti-police protests and targeted scrutiny from elected officials, law enforcement officers in Portland, Oregon, have had enough.

What are the details?

According to the Wall Street Journal, officers in the riot-ravaged city are thinking twice about joining the police department's revamped version of the Gun Violence Reduction Team.

The unit, originally disbanded by the city council in 2020 amid Black Lives Matter protests, was resurrected earlier this year after a wave of gun violence began to rock the city in its absence — only it was not the same. Rather, the Enhanced Community Safety Team, as it is now called, was refashioned to be significantly more woke. Here's more from the Journal's report:

The new unit has its own citizen-advisory board, instituted after the old unit was criticized by city leaders for racial profiling. A job description says qualifications include the ability to fight systemic racism.

The new changes have apparently not been a draw for officers in the City of Roses, many of them wearied by constant backlash and criticism. Since 14 job openings were announced in May, only four police personnel have applied to work within the unit.

"They're demonizing and vilifying you, and then they want to put you in a unit where you're under an even bigger microscope," said Daryl Turner, head of the Portland Police Association, in response to the news.

What else?

Turner has been a voice for Portland's police officers, who were harassed and assaulted by rioters last year only to turn around and see the department's funding cut by progressive city council members.

The union chief went off on city officials in June, blasting them for having "encouraged and enabled some of the violence" that occurred in the city for more than 150 nights last year. He argued that police feel as if the council does not have their back. It's no wonder.

After the council passed significant budget cuts for the department last year, including the disbanding of the Gun Violence Reduction Team, violent crimes started to soar in the city. Portland has seen 53 homicides so far this year and is on pace to surpass its all-time high homicide figure, the Journal reported.

Nevertheless, hostility toward law enforcement rather than criminals remained palpable. The straw broke the camel's back in June when the entire 50-member Portland Rapid Response Team resigned after an officer was criminally indicted for using force against a rioter.

Meanwhile, Portland District Attorney Mike Schmidt declined to prosecute 80% of the crimes committed by rioters during the protests.

Unless something drastically changes, the city will likely continue to have difficulty trying to convince officers that taking tough jobs is worth the risk.

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