The Daily Reformer
Help Wanted: Unarmed pseudo law enforcement rangers to patrol Portland’s parks and confront violent individuals who have guns. You’ll be supplied with a radio and a flashlight. Apply via the city’s website.
Raise your hand if you’re chomping at the bit to sign up for that job! That’s exactly what America’s *favorite* mayor, Ted Wheeler, and his assembled city commissioners have drawn up to counter the sharp rise in shootings and other violent crime that have plagued the city in recent years. The $6 Million comprehensive plan will allocate $1.4 Million to add about 24 new park rangers to the existing cadres, assuming people will actually apply for the jobs.
The rest of the money? It will go to “community organizations” to “combat gun violence,” which really just means it’s reward money for people who have donated to the politicians.
Portland City Council approved a $6 million proposal Wednesday to try to slow a sharp increase in gun violence that has the city on pace to shatter the previous one-year homicide record set over three decades ago.
The last-minute agreement is a compromise between the mayor and the council’s three newest commissioners, who pushed the mayor to find an answer to the skyrocketing number of shootings that didn’t include earmarking new funds for the police bureau.
The three commissioners got much of what they asked for. The proposal puts no new money toward the police bureau. Instead, $1.4 million will be funneled to the city’s Parks & Recreation bureau to hire park rangers, who would patrol the city’s parks and neighborhoods through the end of the year. Another $4.1 million would go to grants for nonprofits working with the city’s Office of Violence Prevention to reduce gun violence.
All five council members enthusiastically endorsed the proposal. The most notable endorsement came from Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, one of the biggest critics of the Gun Violence Reduction Team who led the charge last summer to disband that unit.
“What we’re doing today is giving these young people a sense of hope,” Hardesty said. “What we’re doing today is starting a pathway to making sure we’re investing dollars where they will make the most good.”
The grants would go to nonprofits working to prevent the rise in gun violence. Many already receive funding from the city and would expand their capacity, including Latino Network, NAYA and Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, all of which provide street outreach to at-risk youth.
The new teams for gun violence prevention and investigation are the latest in a string of proposals suggested by police and city leadership since the council voted last summer to disband the Gun Violence Reduction Team, a unit many accused of disproportionately targeting people of color.
Disbanding the team was deemed a major success by many people calling for racial justice amid last summer’s protests and a cut for which Commissioner Hardesty had long been fighting.
This year, there have been 284 shootings compared to just over 100 at the same time last year. Portland isn’t alone in facing mounting violence. The spike comes as cities nationwide are grappling with a dramatic increase in gun violence, making it difficult to pinpoint any one policy in the city as a root cause.
City Commissioner Carmen Rubio, who spearheaded the package, said she felt the quick turnaround was warranted given “years worth of clear and firm direction from our community to take immediate action on these issues.”
“This is coming to council in a manner that matches its urgency,” she said. “We wish this was not the case.”
In a news release announcing the agreement, Rubio’s office, who oversees the parks bureau, said rangers would act as “unarmed, goodwill ambassadors” who would be “eyes on the ground” in the city’s parks and surrounding neighborhoods.
The proposal would charge these rangers with developing a restorative justice program to be run through the Code Hearings Office instead of Multnomah County courts. It would also carve out a new role for Myers, the new community safety director, tapping him to develop the city’s overall gun violence response plan.
Video report via Fox 12 KPTV:
This comes just days after park rangers were threatened by an antifa thug with an axe and a paintball gun. The park rangers themselves were surprised to hear of the proposal and passing, as they were not informed or consulted, and are critical of the plan. Their union is now begging for Level II-A body armor.
Shootings and other violent crimes are on the rise and the city is on pace for over 100 homicides this year. And it all comes at a time when officers are fleeing the police bureau due to the hostile treatment from city leaders and bloviating community honks.
Meanwhile, the city is also rolling out their long-discussed “Street Response” team, which consist of mental health councilors, to respond to certain calls that police would otherwise have responded to.
Next week the city council will debate whether or not to put Brawndo on the crops. Not really, but would any of us be surprised?
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