Mayor Ted Wheeler Requests Around 100 State Troopers to Aid Portland Law Enforcement

Mayor Ted Wheeler has requested that almost 100 Oregon state troopers, one-fifth of the number statewide, be deployed in Portland to combat crimes that local police have stated are too difficult to handle.

The recommendation is one of hundreds made by Wheeler at the first meeting of a task committee created by Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek to revitalize Portland’s central downtown on Tuesday, 22, 2023.

The attempt is part of a hurry by Kotek and other top business executives to create an “action plan” to address the city’s problems with crime, livability, and an empty downtown core since the pandemic.

Kotek’s new task group meetings are closed to the public, as the governor believes the task force’s more than 40 members must have frank, confidential conversations. However, Wheeler, a committee member, was unambiguous about what he expected to see.

Among the bullet points shared by the mayor’s office are requests for major new state investments in trash and graffiti cleanup, more funding for the city’s large-scale outdoor shelters, paving the way for the conversion of downtown’s increasingly vacant office buildings to housing, and investing in an ad campaign to improve Portland’s reputation.

Mayor Ted Wheeler Requests Around 100 State Troopers to Aid Portland Law Enforcement

The recommendations include more than $250 million in direct state funding requests and even more ideas for non-specific state spending. The mayor believes Many enhancements of existing initiatives require greater assistance to be effective.

For example, Wheeler is requesting that the state spend $12 million to implement strategies that will keep encampments from returning to the exact locations on state-owned land, an investment he believes will save the State money in the long run because they will no longer need to send crews to the exact locations over and over. Wheeler’s proposed strategies are not specified in the plan.

On the other hand, Wheeler’s proposal to dedicate 96 state troopers to Portland is more innovative. It would transform the law enforcement environment as the city grapples with rising addiction and related crimes.

OSP should open a branch office downtown Portland for better-coordinated presence and enforcement. Troopers, in his perspective, might assist Portland police in dealing with violent crime, property theft, and hate crimes. The document also implies that troopers may assist in enforcing traffic regulations, which is an important problem given Portland’s recent record of traffic fatalities.

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The notion may not be welcomed by Oregon State Police, who frequently claim they do not have enough officers to police state roadways adequately. The patrol branch of the agency includes approximately 480 sworn officers and dozens of budgeted unfilled posts. The department had an average of 86 unfilled positions over the previous two years.

Wheeler is also pushing for a stronger federal law enforcement presence in the city, as The Oregonian/OregonLive first reported. On Tuesday, 22 August 2023, the interim U.S. Marshal for Oregon, Pete Cajigal, told OPB that his office had just met with Wheeler to discuss his vision of law enforcement efforts within Portland.

However, if the mayor’s recommendations are implemented, they will almost certainly face opposition. An Oregon Justice Resource Center attorney and a frequent police critic, sending in extra law enforcement is a deeply unserious response.

While this call for more law enforcement may appease a segment of the community that continues to push fear and punishment rhetoric, it ignores what almost all experts say are long-term solutions: more upstream investments, coordination and implementation of holistic and diverse strategies, and treating every individual in our community with dignity.”

The central city task team gathered for the first time, and Wheeler gave the opening remarks. And he made his pitch to a powerful group.

On Wednesday, 9 August 2023, Kotek announced the formation of a task committee to develop suggestions for revitalizing the state’s flagging flagship city. However, the governor’s administration did not reveal a list of members until Tuesday, 22, 2023, morning, hours before the first of three scheduled sessions.

Mayor Ted Wheeler Requests Around 100 State Troopers to Aid Portland Law Enforcement

Representatives from many of Portland’s top corporations and civic groups, three members of the state’s congressional delegation, and various state and municipal authorities comprise the 46-person lineup. Kotek is co-chairing the body with Dan McMillan, CEO of The Standard Insurance company, which owns a downtown tower.

Shortly after the task force meeting, the governor appeared next to McMillan. The workshop was touted as a mechanism for members to get on the same page. The group reviewed data from the business ECONorthwest on how Portland compares to similar communities in various ways. Kotek said the group established several committees to address public safety, livability, unsheltered homelessness, and taxes.

Having a good foundation to make good decisions and understand the situation that we’re in is critical. That’s exactly where we wanted to start.

The pair emphasized Portland’s difficulties in reintroducing foot circulation to downtown and the city’s need to transition from a neighborhood dominated by massive business buildings to one with more people living.

However, the group has a very short time to deal with complex challenges. The objective is to present ideas by December last year when corporate executives gathered in Portland for an annual leadership summit.

They hoped to move on some goals sooner, stating that there would be a focus on publicizing “quick wins” resulting from the process. They refused to provide specifics.

Since taking office, Kotek has frequently met with Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson. However, she has often criticized Portland’s officials for failing to solve the city’s difficulties.

For his part, Wheeler emphasized that the city needs additional state assistance, which was a major part of his case. The governor avoided commenting on Wheeler’s proposals, stating that the government alone would not address the city’s problems. However, Kotek did not indicate that she would oppose any aspect of the mayor’s proposal.

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