As Crime Rises, Katko & Herrera Beutler Meet with Law Enforcement in Portland

PORTLAND, OR – Rep. John Katko (R-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) visited Portland, OR, and held a roundtable discussion with local law enforcement about the challenges facing their departments as crime continues to rise.

Since Portland cut its police budget by $16 million and eliminated 84 officer positions, the city has seen a 533% increase in homicides and a 126% rise in shootings.

Key Takeaways:

  • Portland is on pace to see over 1,000 shootings this year. One participant said the city is “at a tipping point.” If nothing changes, Portland will surpass its all-time record for homicides set in 1987, when the city was in the midst of a gang siege. Another participant called the city “a lawless state” and noted violent activity is spreading to nearby suburbs.
  • Anti-police sentiment results in low morale among officers. Earlier this year, 115 Portland police officers resigned or retired, leaving Oregon’s largest city with roughly 800 officers, the fewest in over 25 years. The mass exodus was the largest in recent memory. Even the leader of a local police cadet program said he would not encourage young people to enter the profession given the current anti-police environment.
  • Heightened scrutiny of departments has created an environment of de-policing where officers are less likely to stop people for routine violations. They are forced to think about career preservation and are often afraid to do their jobs because of potential liability.
  • District attorneys (DAs) should enforce the law, not try to rewrite it. Officers need DAs to follow through and prosecute the criminals they arrest. Too often DAs play politics with law enforcement and look out for their own self-interests rather than the best interests of the communities they have sworn to serve.
  • Blaming cops for complicated problems is “the easy button.” The truth is that when departments are defunded, minority communities are hurt the most.

This was Katko’s second police roundtable as head of the American Security Task Force. A key mission of the task force is identifying challenges facing our nation’s law enforcement and working together to make communities safer.

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