‘They almost disappeared’: People of Portland ‘feel helpless’ as they wonder where all the police have gone

Even though the pace of violent crime in Portland, Oregon, has remained ahead of the pace nationwide, there’s just one problem: Officers with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) are apparently nowhere to be found.

“It’s like they almost disappeared,” local small business owner Loretta Guzman told Fox News.

“A lot of people feel really unsafe. They’re angry, they’re sad, they’re mad. They feel helpless. They feel they don’t have a voice. They have questions like, ‘Where are the police? How come they can’t come?’ We used to see them all the time,” she added.

Guzman owns Bison Coffeehouse, a coffee shop that recently tried to allay the public’s fears by hosting a “Coffee with a Cop” event.

However, the event fell by the wayside when a group of Antifa extremists showed up days beforehand and trashed the place.

“Around 2:51a.m., officers responded to a report of vandalism at the Bison Coffeehouse in the 3900 Block of Northeast Cully Boulevard. When they arrived, they found windows had been broken, property damaged, and white debris from a discharged fire extinguisher throughout the interior,” local station KPTV reported last month.

Portland is without a doubt one of the most anti-police cities in the country, and well, it appears this anti-police sentiment has had an effect.

“Violent crime surged 38% in Portland between 2020 and 2021, according to FBI data, outpacing the rest of the country. Property crimes like car theft and vandalism also increased from 2020 to 2021,” according to Fox News.

“The average response time for a high-priority call was 20.4 minutes in October … the slowest it has been in at least six years. PPB defines high-priority calls as those in which people or high-value property are in immediate danger,” the outlet reported Friday.

Speaking with Fox News, local nonprofit founder Michael Fesser said it seems like PPB officers are only interested in dealing with crimes involving death.

“We have felt that the police have, you know, checked out or failed us for a while. It seems that they have just sat back and said, ‘We’re not going to do anything unless it’s a dead body,'” he said.

But it’s not that there are just a bunch of officers standing around doing nothing. What’s actually happening is that the PPB is severely understaffed.

Ever since the Black Lives Matter riots of 2020, in fact, the PPB has been hemorrhaging officers left and right.

“Every day we are still unable to staff shifts to minimums. That, coupled with increases in violent crime, traffic crashes … and other resource-intensive calls, means people sometimes have to wait a long time for an officer to respond,” PPB spokesperson Terri Wallo Strauss told Fox News in an email.

Strauss stressed that officers “got into the line of work to help the community, and it’s frustrating when they can’t.”

It didn’t help that the city chose to throw one officer under the bus last year after he was accused of “attacking” a far-left rioter:

The move enraged officers, prompting the PPB’s entire Rapid Response Team to resign in anger.

The good news for Portlanders is that the PPB is slowly hiring replacements.

“The bureau is slowly bringing new officers in and currently reports 90 sworn vacancies. In September, there were more than 100 sworn vacancies. But it takes 18 months to fully train officers … so even though PPB expects it will continue hiring more officers than it loses to attrition, the effects likely won’t be felt right away,” according to Fox News.

In the meantime, locals like Guzman and Fesser are just hoping that if and when they need the police’s help, they’ll be there to help.

“I don’t need a guy telling me he’s going to go get a gun to come back and shoot me because he’s high. I don’t need this guy trying to break into my shop because he’s got a needle in his hand and he wants to go in my bathroom and shoot up. This is not the place you’re doing this. And so if I call them, I need help,” Guzman said.

“We don’t know exactly what to do when someone’s in our backyard because we don’t want to take actions and go to prison. So we want them to do their job. And as a community, we want to do our job to be law-abiding citizens,” Fesser added.

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