On Monday, the Portland Police Department announced that residents of the city of Portland should prepare for 911 response times to be significantly longer due to the department facing a staffing shortage and budgetary issues, Fox News reports.
The police attributed the delays to both “critical incidents” and a “staffing shortage,” in a statement on Twitter. Due to the impact of the latter, the department focused solely on the former by responding only to Priority 1 and Priority 2 emergency calls, which consist of scenarios where a life may be in immediate danger, or where major property crimes are taking place.
A significant number of the critical incidents on Monday that required immediate police attention involved armed carjackings in northern Portland, which led to one victim being shot; the suspect was shot and killed when officers arrived on the scene.
Back in January, the department warned that it was facing “critical” shortages in staffing, primarily due to “budget cuts, retirements and separations, and the backlog of needed training for new officers caused by the pandemic.” This came after 55 officers retired over the course of the year 2020, with an additional 29 separating themselves from the department; this left only about 855 sworn officers still with the department.
Portland was one of the most prominent cities to advocate for “defunding the police” in the midst of race riots last summer. As a well-known bastion of the far-left, the city council was quick to appease the demands of radical activists, and voted in June of last year to cut the police department’s budget by $15 million.
But following the spike in violent crime in the city due to the defunding of the police, including a record total of 72 homicides this year alone, the council reversed course and voted last month to restore one-third of the cut funds, raising the police budget by about $5.2 million.
Mayor Ted Wheeler (D-Ore.) commented on the rise in crime at a press conference last month, saying that “many Portlanders no longer feel safe in their city.”
“Business owners have closed up shop for fear of doing business in high-risk areas,” Wheeler continued. “Commuters fear for their safety, whether taking public transport or going by foot. Parents are scared to let their children play outside.”