Portland, Oregon, once known for its funky vibe and great food scene, has become a shell of its former self, with businesses fleeing and people leaving for greener pastures.
Public safety officials across Oregon have expressed concern about rising crime in their communities, but according to police data, crime is spiking much more dramatically in Portland than the statewide average.
The Portland metro area, which is made up of Multnomah County, Washington County, and Clackamas County, has seen shocking and often gruesome headlines become commonplace.
Kristin Olson, a trial attorney and host of the Rational in Portland podcast, says that de-carceration and the elimination of bail culture have resulted in a large number of people running around, and the anti-police culture in Portland only exacerbates the problem.
Oregon State Police data shows that overall crime has leveled off in all three counties, but crime continues to increase within Portland city limits.
Portland set a new homicide record for the second year in a row, and its crime problem can be partially attributed to the 2020 efforts to defund the police, according to Clackamas County District Attorney John Wentworth.
The number of police officers in the Portland Police Bureau has plummeted, making it challenging to investigate crime. Portland currently ranks 48th out of 50 big cities for officers per capita, and critics say that criminals know that even if a person calls the police, they won’t show up.
Portland’s public safety problem needs leadership at all levels, according to Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton.
Portland can be saved, but it will require voters to wake up and vote differently, says Clackamas County Commissioner Ben West.
Local policies that prioritize police funding, make arrests, and prosecute suspects, as seen in Clackamas County, can give nearby cities vastly different outcomes than Portland.