Portland City Council Vote Includes Funding Unarmed Cops Program

The Portland Medium

The Portland City Council is set to approve 13 amendments for the city’s budget. The public has had hours of opportunity during the hearing, with many speaking out on their thoughts about how funds should be allocated despite being able only limited input due to state law restrictions.

Those at the meeting could tell that the City of Portland is making some minor changes to their outdated policies and requirements with regards to retired officers. The new amendment includes a list of which officers can work in the city, as well as an an update on the unarmed officers program before funding it.

Portland leaders have blocked previous requests to expand the innovative program designed to reduce interactions between armed police officers and people experiencing homelessness or mental health crises. Some like it due to its life-saving measures. 

Many believe that this will also reduce the shooting and killing of Blacks as well. Kendra James and Jahar Perez would be alive today if officers involved in their killing were not armed.

Earlier this year leaders were seeking $3.6 million in ongoing funds to expand the program citywide, and has received overwhelming support from City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty who voted for it with the support of Commissioner Carmen Rubio. This program, especially during the recent uprisings, is a political hot potato. Mayor Ted Wheeler along with Commissioners Mingus Mapps and Dan Ryan rejected this idea months ago when it came up at a meeting on May 13th.

In order for this program to be dispatched, a situation must meet one of four criteria: A person is outside and possibly intoxicated or experiencing mental health crisis. Others may just need some help but don’t have access on their phone.

If an emergency call meets one of these criteria, it must then check off five requirements: there are no weapons seen and the person is not suicidal. They must not be violent toward others (physically combative), threatening violence against themselves or other people; as well as obstructing traffic. Lastly, when someone’s life may be endangered if help doesn’t come quickly enough so as long as any one item isn’t met. The vote at the Portland City Council meeting came after five hours of testimony about the $52 million spending plan. The city still has to take a full vote next Wednesday.