PORTLAND, Ore. (TND) - Reversing direction, Portland city leaders have decided to increase spending on the city's police this year to the tune of more than $5 million.
A new major spending plan was passed Wednesday afternoon. The budget reportedly had unanimous support from commissioners.
The "Fall Supplemental Budget" for the city's 2021-2022 fiscal year includes $7 million for "public safety". $5.2 million will go towards Portland's police department. That's a reversal from the city's previous decision to "defund the police".
"Portlanders have a right to feel safe. I am committed to investing in programs that improve public safety in an urgent and strategic way, while also supporting reformed policies and practices to rebuild trust and accountability," Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said in a statement coupled with the budget proposal. "These funds are an opportunity to stabilize our city and can act as a bridge while we wait for longer-term investments to take shape."
The city previously cut millions of dollars in funding from the police department following George Floyd's death and subsequent protests that swept America in 2020.
Following those budget cuts, and the negative public perception at the time, many officers retired or quit.
A spokesperson for the National Police Association. Sgt. Betsy Brantner Smith, said in July of 2021 that America was in "a retention crisis for law enforcement."
Now, Portland and other cities seem to be moving towards "refunding" the police.
Portland's police chief took to Twitter to weigh in on the budget and its passing.
"Thank you to the members of the City Council for their willingness to provide us with additional resources to address our critical staffing needs in order for PPB to better serve our community and meet their expectations," said Chief Chuck Lovell.
Chief Lovell goes on to say that this is just the beginning of the process that may take years. He plans to work with his department to recruit, hire, and train "hundreds" of officers and "public safety specialists". The chief also said that the department will also focus on retaining current members.
"We also look forward to implementing some of the reforms, such as hiring a civilian manager of the Training Division and obtaining body-worn cameras. We fully support these reforms and will now move forward on next steps." said Chief Lovell in his Twitter thread.