Clark County Today Editor Ken Vance shares his disappointment over recent developments concerning police in Portland and Seattle
We continue to witness one of the most insane times in the history of our country as elected officials and community leaders around the nation and region continue to allow a vocal, aggressive, and often violent and criminal minority of Americans who endanger our safety and diminish our quality of life.
In Seattle, the City Council voted Monday to cut $4 million from the budget of its police department. It has been reported that it will equate to an $11-million reduction over the course of a year. Now, it should be pointed out that the department’s total budget is $400 million and the cuts are far less than the 50 percent that some radicals were asking for.
However, the cuts were significant enough that Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best submitted her retirement. Best, understandably, has had enough. She was the first black woman to lead the Seattle police force. She was tired of the lack of support, and outright disrespect of law enforcement in that city. By all accounts she was an exemplary police officer and a tremendous loss to that city.
In Portland, things, as we know, are no better. Violence and criminal activity continues to drown out any peaceful demonstrations and protests going on in that city. Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced Tuesday that his office will drop most of the charges filed against protesters in Portland. Schmidt said his prosecutors won’t pursue demonstrators accused of interfering with police, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass, escape or harassment if the allegations don’t involve “deliberate’’ property damage, theft or force against another person or threats of force.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said Schmidt’s policy changes don’t alter state law and that the Police Bureau “remains committed to public safety.” Lovell added that his officers will continue to make arrests regardless of whether the prosecutor’s office decides to do their job or not.
What makes these latest news items so unbelievable is that the overwhelming majority of Americans, of all skin colors, want the police to spend either more time, or the same amount of time in their neighborhoods. And, that can’t take place if elected officials bow to the pressure to defund police departments.
A recent Gallup poll, conducted June 23 through July 6, revealed that 86 percent of all American adults either wanted to see the police in the neighborhoods more (19 percent) or the same (67 percent) amount of time. A breakdown of race, shows that 81 percent of black Americans wanted the police to spend either more time (20 percent) or the same amount of time (61 percent) in their neighborhoods. Among white Americans, 88 percent either wanted to see police more often (17 percent) or the same (71 percent). Eighty-three percent of Hispanic Americans wanted to see the police in their neighborhoods either more (24 percent) or the same (59 percent) amount of time. And, 72 percent of Asian Americans wanted the police in their neighborhoods either more (9 percent) or the same (63 percent) amount of time.
We’ve all seen the disturbing news coverage of the very vocal minority. The incredibly irresponsible adults who put T-shirts on small children with the words “(expletive) The Police,’’ or place signs in the children’s hands with the same message. Even worse, are those who coach those innocent and unknowing children to repeat those words in front of cameras recording the sadness. And, the graffiti, the destruction, the vandalism, the criminal activity … it’s beyond disturbing.
As much as it turns my stomach, that’s not the point. The point is that it’s absolutely not the way the overwhelming majority of Americans feel, and I’m not just referring to white Americans. Americans of all skin colors support law enforcement and want to feel protected by police.
And, anyone who believes I’m blindly supporting law enforcement without any recognition of how they can do better, please refer to my previous thoughts on the subject. I believe we can do better. I support the need for police reform:
This is an election year. I’ve told you many times, I don’t tell you how to vote or who to vote for. But, it’s time for our elected officials to do the right thing, and that’s not what the members of the Seattle City Council and the Multnomah County Prosecutor’s Office are doing right now. Our elected officials have to display the courage to stand up to the vocal, aggressive, and often violent and criminal minority of Americans of all skin colors. Or, in my opinion, they should be held accountable in November.