According to Portland, Oregon’s leftist mayor Ted Wheeler, blacks have been unfairly targeted for low-level traffic infractions, and that is a chief reason he is recommending that police stop pursuing people who commit them.
Unless there is an immediate safety threat, Wheeler said, the practice of pursuing such traffic infractions must end. He stated that 6% of Portland residents are black, but they comprise 18% of traffic stops in the city.
Another change to be implemented by police: if they stop a driver they must obtain permission from the driver before searching the vehicle and allow the driver to refuse permission, AP reported.
Wheeler said, “The goal of these two changes is to make our safety safer and more equitable,” acknowledging, “Our staffing on the streets is inadequate.”
“Currently the police bureau, which is struggling to find its grounding in the liberal city, is at its lowest staffing in decades — the department is around 150 officers short of ‘authorized strength,” AP noted, adding, “In the past nine months, the department has experienced a rapid turnover with more than 120 officers having left …”
Wheeler’s soft approach to enforcing the law has been demonstrated in other ways; in late August 2020, The Daily Wire cited a report from Oregon Public Broadcasting that Wheeler was considering ordering Portland police to “stand down” in the face of unrest and riots damaging the city’s downtown:
OPB reports that, in “late July,” as the protests were entering their second month and suspected anarchists were ramping up attacks on the city’s federal courthouse, Wheeler texted a top aide and suggested that Portland officials instruct the police to turn a blind eye to the demonstrations, thinking it would de-escalate the violence. “In late July, Mayor Ted Wheeler had an idea he hoped would end the nightly clashes between protesters and police in Portland. He texted Sonia Schmanski, a top aide, that he had a plan that was ‘high risk,’ but he added that the city had ‘nothing to lose,’” according to OPB. “His idea: Tell his police force to stand down from the demonstrations.”
Also in August 2020, Wheeler admitted at a virtual press conference that he had been lax toward violent individuals in the city, saying, “We—and I put myself at the top of that list as the city’s mayor—we have allowed our proud tradition of progressive protests to be stolen by a few dozen individuals engaged in violence and criminal destruction. Their intent on creating mayhem and attacking and harming people, not just property — that’s a line that we can’t allow our community to cross, not anymore. Enough is enough. It’s time to rise up and take immediate steps to repair and beautify our city. But again, I need the help of the entire community.”
He added, “All violence—including police violence—is not the way to further the goals of our community.”
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