PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mayor Ted Wheeler announced new citywide reform policies on Tuesday in response to the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd.
Wheeler said he has been listening to feedback from leaders and the community over the past few weeks, and has heard the demands.
“I want you to know I take each of these demands seriously,” he said. “I should have acted with greater urgency on these demands,” he said.
“Everything needs to be on the table, and we need to fundamentally change the police bureau, and how we interact with police in our daily lives,” he said.
Wheeler said the first phase of the plan is to redirect $7 million from police budget and $5 million from elsewhere toward the black community, dissolve the Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT) and transit officers, stand with Oregon Legislative People of Color Caucus to bring reforms and ban choke holds.
There is no timeline on when the GVRT will be dissolved. The GVRT was formed in February 2019 by members from a few PPB units, including the Gang Enforcement Team.
“I am not convinced and others are not convinced we landed on the right structure to really make a meaningful impact in reduction in the number of shootings in our community,” said
New Portland Police Chief Lt. Chuck Lovell spoke briefly after the announcement and expressed his support for the plan.
“We’re at a cross roads in policing, we understand some things have to change,” Lovell said. “My job is to lead the department through these changes.”
Community leaders, including Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, have long called for these changes.
“Defund” does not mean “get rid of police officers” in Portland. The mayor plans to move the dozens of officers in those units to other areas inside PPB, and he said other changes are coming.
“I’m hearing loudly and clearly from demonstrators that they want us to completely reimagine the way that we think about public safety in our community,” Wheeler said. “I believe these reforms combined with the resources that I’ve proposed we send out to the community, I believer those things work together to live up to the promise of that reimagination.”
But these changes will not be immediate.
Wheeler and Lovell said they need to first figure out who will respond to shootings within the bureau, and the city has a contract with TriMet for officer through the end of this year.
Last week, Wheeler decided to halt funding for armed officers in Portland public high schools. Those officers will also be reassigned.
These are among the 19 ideas Wheeler proposed:
- Redirect $7 million from Police Bureau and $5 million from other City funds to communities of color
- Call on criminal justice system partners to match the City commitment and reinvest in communities of color
- Call for a community-led review and re-envisioning of core police patrol services, convened by the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing (PCCEP)
- Decline renewal of Intergovernmental Agreement with TriMet, dissolving the PPB Transit Division and putting transit officers back on patrol
- Dissolve Gun Violence Reduction team and fundamentally reshape our approach to reduce gun violence in collaboration with the Office of Youth Violence Prevention, District Attorney-elect and other partners
- Remove police officers from schools, dissolving Youth Services Division and School Resource Officer program
- Create local legislation enshrining PCCEP in Portland City Code, making it a permanent community oversight body
- Create local racial profiling ban with private right of action for intentional discrimination by law enforcement