Portland reportedly can’t find officers to fill elite crime team amid growing murder rate

Portland police are struggling to find officers for their elite Gun Violence Reduction Team that was resurrected to combat the skyrocketing murder rate after being disbanded over a year ago as Black Lives Matter and Antifa besieged the city.

The ‘Defund the Police’ movement and added scrutiny that could lead to doxing, unwanted media attention, imprisonment, lawsuits, or getting fired for making arrests has led to a lack of volunteers who want to join the unit.

Homicides have skyrocketed in the Oregon city since the unit was dismantled last summer following a vote by the Portland City Council to cut the police department’s budget by $15 million. Trying to rebrand the unit, Mayor Ted Wheeler proposed resurrecting it in March and renaming it the “Focused Initiative Team.”

Fourteen openings were announced last May. Only four officers have applied for the positions. No officers have been assigned to the unit according to The Wall Street Journal.

“The chief’s office is now working on choosing sergeants first, then working to assemble the rest of the team. There is no specific date for the team to be formed,” Lt. Greg Pashley told the Washington Examiner.

Not adding to the appeal is the fact that the unit has its own citizen advisory board which further puts officers at risk of prosecution and adds to their uncertainty on whether the city of Portland has their backs or not. The nail in the coffin for unit recruitment was the job qualifications for the team that now include the “ability to identify and dismantle institutional and systemic racism in the bureau’s responses to gun violence.” As anything now can pretty much be seen as racist, it’s a no-win situation for police officers.

“They’re demonizing and vilifying you, and then they want to put you in a unit where you’re under an even bigger microscope,” Daryl Turner, who is a leader of the Portland Police Association, stated.

(Video Credit: Fox News)

“It might give one pause as they’re considering whether to apply for the new iteration of this assignment as to what kind of support there is, what’s the leadership going to be like, what’s the mission, and so that could certainly contribute to people taking a pause before they apply,” remarked Lt. Pashley. “Every person who applies, or who looks at it and doesn’t apply, is going to have their own reasons, and there’s probably going to be a lot of reasons. We can’t just narrow it down to one thing.”

So far in 2021, there have been 53 murders in Portland. The liberal stronghold is on track to top its all-time record of 70 homicides in 1987. More than 100 police officers have left the city since last year.

Violent demonstrations involving Antifa and Black Lives Matter have been raging in Portland for over a year now. They have been an almost daily occurrence and lawlessness has spread. Democrats who control and run the city have effectively supported the chaos. As officers have been persecuted for doing their jobs, they have become more hesitant in carrying out their duties, leading to even more lawlessness.

When the old team was disbanded by Portland bureaucrats last year, they cited data that allegedly showed that 52 percent of police stops that were conducted since 2019 involved black individuals. Black residents make up about 5.8 percent of Portland’s overall population.

Conversely, Jami Resch, who is the assistant chief of the Portland Police Bureau’s investigations branch, countered that the unit’s previous work was beneficial in minority communities because shootings disproportionately impacted 23 percent of Portland’s population that is non-white.

The difficulty in staffing the unit is occurring following the entire Portland Police Rapid Response Team resigning. Fifty Police Bureau employees voluntarily serving on the Rapid Response Team (RRT) left the unit but are still serving on the police force following the indictment of an officer. Rapid Response Team member Corey Budworth was indicted on one count of assault in the fourth degree for allegedly using unlawful physical force during a protest in August of 2020. The team is a volunteer organization that responds to civil disobedience, riots, and demonstrations.

Crime has exploded across the nation in 2021 and many police departments have seen mass resignations due to the ‘Defund the Police’ movement.

Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., is reporting that from April 2020 through March 2021, there has been an 18 percent increase in police resignations and a 45 percent increase in retirements compared to this time last year.

No one is surprised by the crime surge in Portland or by the police not lining up to join the unit:


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