Saturday 13 November 2021

What Runaway Crime and Too Few Cops Look Like in Portland

 Crime statistics alone don’t tell the whole story of the impact of breakdowns in public safety, social order, and the rule of law. This depressing story from Portland, Ore., drives it home:

Oleg Pilipenko, the owner of Katie O’Brien’s, a bar in Northeast Portland, says. . . . “It’s the second robbery in the last month. . . . They both were at gunpoint.” On Monday night, robbers pointed a gun in the face of his employee. . . . He said it’s hard enough to find employees during this pandemic. And now, his employees are afraid to work. . . . “We just changed our hours, we’re going to reduce it, and we’re going to close at midnight.” He said insurance companies aren’t helpful either. “You don’t claim the insurance for such things, because otherwise, your rate’s going to go up next time, or you’re going to be dropped out. It’s a common thing right now in our industry,” he said.

What are the Portland cops doing? For Pilipenko, given Portland’s badly understaffed police department, it’s not cops, it’s cop. Singular.

“In the last 30 days, it’s the same cop coming here. He doesn’t even have a backup. He’s the only guy in the whole area around here. He’s a nice guy. He tried to help as he can. . . . He’s just trying to do the job as he can; unfortunately, he doesn’t have the ability to do that,” Pilipenko said. Pilipenko called out City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, saying she needs to address the police staffing issue. “Our commissioner, who’s thinking about bringing in an extra hundred police officers,” said Pilipenko, “I think she needs to finally make a decision if she wants to run this city, or she needs to step down and let somebody to do that. Because it’s her personal responsibility to protect the residents of the city.”

The story quotes one Portland police sergeant: “With staffing levels like these . . . it’s really a good time to commit crimes. We’re practically incentivizing it.”

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