In a 3-2 vote Thursday, the Portland city council voted NO to a purposed $18 Million cut to the police budget. The vote comes five months after the same city council voted to re-route $15 million from the police budget to other city programs.
In an almost unified opinion, the council members agree that there needs to be policing reform. However, there is some debate about the best way to go about doing it.
The majority of the council called for more comprehensive discussions of how to best reform public safety in Portland and expressed concerns over the layoffs resulting from a cut of that size.
Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, and Commissioner Dan Ryan, all voted against the cut citing the dangers of taking an even deeper amount from the city’s police force without having a better plan to protect the city. They did not disagree that changes to the police force and the criminal justice system are needed system-wide, just that the city was not prepared to make the cuts at this time.
“We must remember that cuts happen quickly, but building new resources that achieve proven results takes time and intention,” Ryan said, urging the government body to move forward “methodically.”
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who proposed the cuts to the police budget and voted yes, argued for the funds to be reallocated to assist with the cities needs. Things like food support and preventing evections as opposed to crime-fighting and keeping the city safe. They said the cuts would have shown that the city’s elected leaders were responsive to the scores of residents who’ve called for alternative methods of enduring public safety that involve less policing.
“It’s disappointing that the status quo will reassert itself in this process,” said Hardesty. “We’ll continue to talk about Black lives, but we won’t actually do anything to make Black lives better. We’ll keep talking about transformation, but let’s talk about it first and about who didn’t come to the table. These tables have been open and expansive and all of you have been invited and you’ve chosen not to come.”