Dozens of police officers in Portland, Oregon left negative comments in their statements as they left the police department for other agencies and departments or retiring, The Oregonian revealed.
The city’s main newspaper reviewed 31 exit interview statements it obtained through a public records request, noting that about a quarter of those who left in the last year chose to fill in the voluntary interview form and that nearly all of them were dissatisfied with the bureau’s ability to respond to problems and said they would’t recommend their jobs to family or friends.
Some of the officers who turned in their badges said their heavy workload drove them out, and others felt their efforts to solve crimes or protect the public were in vain.
“Overworked, overwhelmed, and burned out”, one officer said.
“Budget cuts, unit cuts that put the community at risk made working for Portlanders feel like a waste of effort”, a retiring patrol officer wrote.
Some police officers also criticised City Hall for the lack of support
A training officer noted that he had “never seen morale so low”.
“Officers leaving mid-career and sometimes sooner to go to other agencies. Officers retiring when they would have stayed longer if the situation were different”, he said, adding that it was “unfathomable” what the city council had done “to beat down the officers”.
He also said that officers were “de-policing due to fear of being accused of excessive force”.
One retiring detective complained about ineffective management and the lack of support from the community.
“The community shows zero support. The city council are raging idiots, in addition to being stupid. Additionally, the mayor and council ignore actual facts on crime and policing in favour of radical leftist and anarchists fantasy. What’s worse is ppb command (lt. and above) is arrogantly incompetent and cowardly”, he was quoted by The Oregonian as saying.
The news comes amid a massive exodus from the police force, with 115 officers leaving the Police Bureau since 1 July and two more to resign by the end of this month and one more retiring, the outlet said.
The number includes 74 who retired and 41 who resigned.
Recently, police bureau data revealed that the overall number of homicides in Oregon had more than tripled year-on-year. Homicides increased by almost 271 percent between July 2020, when the city’s budget cuts of approximately $16 million from the local police were enacted, and February of this year, per the most recent data available.
Last year, Portland was the centre of violent protests against racism and police brutality, with summer clashes between the police and members of Antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement. The rioters at one point even managed to create a so-called “autonomous zone” in the city centre, to which law enforcement was denied entry.
As the protests spread nationwide, calls to “defund the police” emerged, with some demanding a complete dissolution of law enforcement agencies and the transfer of the right to use force to local communities.
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