Portland mayor calls for big police budget increase

PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 30: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler speaks to the media at City Hall on August 30, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. A man was fatally shot Saturday night as a Pro-Trump rally clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters in downtown Portland. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OR – AUGUST 30: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler speaks to the media at City Hall on August 30, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

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UPDATED 2:30 PM PT – Thursday, November 4, 2021

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) has pledged to increase the police budget one year after defunding the police.

During a community town hall meeting on Wednesday, Wheeler said he’s targeting around $7 million dollars in new public safety spending. This comes as Portland experienced its most violent year on record, with a historic 72 homicides this year.

“Many Portlanders no longer feel safe in their city,” said Wheeler during a news conference. “Business owners have closed up shop, for fear of doing business in high-risk areas. Commuters fear for their safety, whether taking public transport or going by foot. Parents are scared to let their children play outside.”

The mayor said he will begin investing this fall into hiring more police officers and purchasing equipment such as body cameras. Wheeler said he hopes to increase police staffing by at least 300 officers over the next three years.

“Our police bureau staffing levels are at record lows and based on projected retirements, staffing levels will continue [to decrease] unless we take decisive action now,” said the mayor. Upon their departure, officers cited low morale and lack of support from city officials amid the defund the police movement.

In the meantime, Wheeler said he believes he has support on the city council for a vote on the new investments.

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