Mass Exodus of Police Officers from Portland Due to Burnout, Lack of Support

'The city council are raging idiots, in addition to being stupid...'

A total of 115 Portland police officers have left the force since Jul. 1, 2020, revealing high levels of overwork and burnout, according to exit interview comments cited in The Oregonian.

The newspaper reviewed 31 exit interviews from police officers that showed several concerns held by the city’s law enforcement.

The 115 officers included 74 retired officers and 41 police officers who resigned.

“The city council are raging idiots, in addition to being stupid,” noted one officer. “Additionally, the mayor and council ignore actual facts on crime and policing in favor of radical leftist and anarchist fantasy. What’s worse is ppb command (lt. and above) is arrogantly incompetent and cowardly.”

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Another officer noted officers are “overworked, overwhelmed and burned out.”

A third police officer stated, “Budget cuts, unit cuts that put the community at risk made working for Portlanders feel like a waste of effort.”

The large number of exiting officers have left Portland in need of 136 new officers. The city is authorized to have 1,210 positions.

The need comes as the city has experienced widespread concerns related to violence during Antifa and Black Lives Matter riots. Many 2020 protests urged Portland to defund police.

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The city also saw rioters create an “autonomous zone” in the city center. The attempt followed the example in Seattle, Washington, known as CHAZ, that experienced at least four shootings, two deaths and arson before being shut down by local authorities.

The same city now features billboards advertising a $15,000 bonus for new Portland officers in an attempt to meet recruiting needs.

In March, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler called for nearly $2 million in additional funding for the city’s police force and other agencies, citing a rise in homicides and other violent crime.

The move marked an abrupt change from a Portland vote by city leaders in June 2020. The city voted to cut nearly $16 million from the police budget following protests after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The shift appears largely motivated by Portland’s spike in violence this year. Twenty-five homicides have taken place already, far more than the same time period in 2020.

Local TV news station KGW8 reported approximately 275 shootings have taken place in the city in 2021 as of Apr. 2. The overall number of homicides has more than tripled year-on-year, according to police bureau data.

Portland has not been alone in losing a large number or police officers. Cities like Minneapolis, Seattle and Chicago have experienced similar trends.

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, noted, “It’s a challenging time to be a police officer, let’s face it.”

“The last year,” he said, “has been one crisis after another and in Portland in particular, which went through more than 100 days of non-stop protests.’’

U.S. federal statistics data, published by the Council on Criminal Justice, shows that in 2020, the number of homicides increased dramatically, as did the number of aggravated assaults and gun assaults.

Homicide rates were 30 percent higher in 2019 than in 2018, marking a record rise of 1,268 deaths in the study of 34 cities, including major areas and some of the smallest towns.

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