From the way it used crowd-control munitions and chemical agents on Black Lives Matter protesters to the way it allocates its budget, all eyes have been on the Portland Police Bureau. The summer of 2020 brought a wave of protests against police brutality and systemic oppression within the criminal justice system. And it brought forth calls to reform, defund, and abolish the police, not just in Portland, but in cities across the country. At last 13 major cities have defunded their police forces or have reallocated funds to go toward other departments.
Here in Portland, if you want to see what defunding the police might look like, a good place to start is Portland Street Response, a non-police response to assist people experiencing houselessness or a behavioral or mental health crisis. The program was approved in November of 2019, started training this January, and on February 16, the small four-person team spearheading the program will begin taking calls in Lents in Southeast Portland.
In this episode of Footnotes, Portland Monthly deputy editor Fiona McCann talks about the new Portland Street Response, how it differs from traditional police, and what we can expect when the team rolls out on Tuesday.
- Fiona McCann
Every Friday we break down our most important stories with the writers, contributors, and editors who crafted them. Hosted by Portland Monthly digital editor Gabriel Granillo, Footnotes provides clarity on complex stories with intimate and informative interviews.