A year after Portland cut funds to its police department amid defund the police protests, Mayor Ted Wheeler announced Wednesday he is seeking more than $5 million this fall for police investments, including hiring more officers and buying body-worn cameras.
"Many Portlanders no longer feel safe in their city," Wheeler said during a news conference Wednesday. "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."
Portland has seen its most violent year, with a record number of 72 homicides, surpassing its previous full-year record of 66 in 1987. Nationally, homicides increased by nearly 30% from 2019 to 2020, based on FBI data. In Portland, deadly violence increased at a faster rate than nearly all major cities, with an 83% increase in homicides in 2020, Fox News reports.
Starting in the fiscal year 2023, Wheeler said he wants to increase the police bureau’s staffing numbers by 300 employees — 200 sworn officers and 100 unarmed public safety specialists — over the next three years.
To attract more officers to the force, Wheeler is proposing $25,000 signing bonuses to the first 50 officers or public safety specialists. He is also supporting hiring back 25 retired police officers.