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Portland mayor orders police to stop using tear gas on protest crowds!

The Portland Police declared the protest a riot after multiple Molotov cocktails were thrown from the crowd in the direction of the police. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian/Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian)

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The declaration comes after more than 100 straight days of protests that have seen city and federal officers deploy tear gas on participants

By Joseph Wilkinson
New York Daily News

PORTLAND, Ore. — The mayor of Portland, Ore., banned police officers in the city from using tear gas Thursday. His order is effective immediately and will last until further notice.

Mayor Ted Wheeler, who also serves as city police commissioner, was tear-gassed himself at a protest July 23.

During the last hundred days Portland, Multnomah County and State Police have all relied on CS gas where there is a threat to life safety,” Wheeler said. “We need something different. We need it now.”

Protesters demanding racial justice have demonstrated in the city for more than 100 days since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers May 25. At one point, President Trump sent federal authorities to the city, an action that sparked the protest where Wheeler was tear-gassed.

Tear gas bans in other cities have led to police using other chemical irritants, such as pepper spray, more often. The CS gas banned by Wheeler is also banned from warfare by the Geneva Convention.

Portland’s months of protest have turned violent at times. In late August, Michael Reinoehl fatally shot Aaron Danielson, 39, at a protest. Reinoehl was then gunned down by federal authorities who were closing in to arrest him in Washington.

Reinoehl had described himself as “100% anti-fascist.” Danielson was a member of the far-right group Patriot Prayer, which attracts white supremacists and supports Trump.

“I call on everyone to step up and tamp down the violence,” Wheeler said Thursday. “I’m acting. It’s time for others to join me.”

©2020 New York Daily News

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Next NYPD Commissioner Will Face Low Morale, Surging Gun Violence

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Whoever is selected as New York City’s new police commissioner will face daunting challenges, including combating increased gun crimes and repairing officer morale and community relations.

September 20, 2021 – By Rocco Parascandola – Source New York Daily News

A new mayor means a new boss at the NYPD next year — and she’ll have her hands full dealing with the city’s surging gun violence, cops’ sagging morale and the department’s frayed community relations.

Yes, the commissioner will likely be a “she.”

Democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams — who is widely expected to defeat GOP candidate Curtis Sliwa in overwhelmingly Democratic New York City — has promised to put a woman in the job.

But who it will be is anyone’s guess. “He is casting a wide net,” said a source close to the candidate.

Adams might shake up the department with an outsider.

Carmen Best, the former Seattle police chief; Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw and former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who is now practicing law at the white-shoe firm Paul Weiss, are believed to be the non- NYPD candidates under consideration.

If Lynch gets the nod it could be seen as a step down — from America’s top law enforcement official to the head of the nation’s largest police force.

But an NYPD source said with Lynch now in private practice a move to the top floor of One Police Plaza would be a jump back into the limelight.

“She’s certainly qualified,” the source said. “She has the resume.”

Several internal candidates are also believed to be in the mix.

The most notable possibility within the NYPD is Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes, who retired from the department in December 2018 but returned in January 2020 and soon afterward assumed her current post.

The others are Chief Judith Harrison, who oversees precincts in north Brooklyn, Chief of Transportation Kim Royster and Assistant Chief Donna Jones, who runs the Criminal Justice Bureau.

None of the potential commissioners would comment.

Adams “has been clear that his police commissioner will share his belief that we can have both the safety we need and the justice we deserve,” said his spokesman, Evan Thies.

The new commissioner must also possess “the law enforcement and emotional intelligence it takes to run the NYPD and protect New Yorkers,” Thies said.

Whoever ends up with the job faces daunting challenges.

Gun violence continues to plague many city neighborhoods.

“It’s about guns, guns, guns,” said Richard Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission, a nonprofit that advocates for new criminal justice strategies. “If we don’t get a handle on the gun violence, then the city is really in trouble.”

Other woes include low officer morale over protests and assaults that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and new laws that restrict police use of force

“I think the Police Department has been irreparably damaged,” said Eugene O’Donnell, a former cop and a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan.

“Cops have no one supporting them,” said O’Donnell. “Scores of officials, literally from the president on down, have been blasting the cops.”

O’Donnell lamented protesters’ “insane comparison of the NYPD to some sort of iron curtain police force.”

O’Donnell says it will be important for the new mayor to let his commissioner do the job free of mayoral interference — which he feels was a problem with Mayor de Blasio.

The Police Benevolent Association, the city’s biggest police union, had no comment on a future commissioner. Lynch allowed a Civil Rights Division probe of now-fired Staten Island cop Daniel Pantaleo — who the PBA firmly supported — over the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

Sergeants union head Edward Mullins said the path for success for the new top cop is clear.

“Be a leader,” he said. “Build up morale and build up relations in communities, but be a decisive leader capable of making tough decisions even if it’s not popular with anti-police factions.”

©2021 New York Daily News. 

Visit nydailynews.com

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Chicago Mayor’s to Unveil Boost in Police Spending

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is expected to increase police funding in her proposed 2022 budget as the city sees some of the highest levels of violence in decades.

September 20, 2021 – By Gregory Pratt – Source Chicago Tribune

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is set to unveil a spending plan later Monday that is expected to boost funding for police as she seeks to move Chicago past the ongoing pandemic and to address rampant gun violence.

Last month, Lightfoot laid out a $733 million budget shortfall for 2022. The plan to close the gap is unlikely to include a sizable property tax increase. Instead, she is expected to propose filling the budget hole by refinancing outstanding debt and using one-time money from the federal American Rescue Plan.

Without a significant property tax hike, Lightfoot may have an easier time getting her budget passed than she did last year. But the mayor will likely face increased pressure from aldermen and activists who want her to spend more from the nearly $2 billion the city is receiving from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan package to fill the hole and fund favored programs.

Also likely to be at issue is the best way to address the city’s violence, which has remained elevated after surging in 2020 to some of the highest levels in decades. In August, Lightfoot said she plans to boost funding for cops after last year’s spending plan cut officer positions.

Chicago’s structural deficit will also continue to grow in 2022 because of state-imposed requirements for the city to increase funding for its pension funds. Long-term, Lightfoot hopes to use revenue from a Chicago casino to help address that problem, but the plan faces an uncertain future as the city has struggled to attract interest in the casino project.

Since becoming mayor, Lightfoot has also spoken about the need for pension reform, though she hasn’t made headway on that in Springfield or unveiled a plan of her own while focusing on more immediate pandemic-related financial problems. But the pension payments will continue to increase to around $2.3 billion in 2022 and eat up more of the annual budget, adding pressure on the city’s finances.

Lightfoot has made clear she doesn’t intend to use all the funds from the federal rescue plan on the upcoming budget shortfall, saying in August that to do so would be “utterly irresponsible, ineffective, and leave us with nothing to support ourselves, God forbid another crisis strikes our city.”

After announcing in a televised August 2019 speech that Mayor Rahm Emanuel had saddled her with an $838 million deficit for 2020, Lightfoot said she made structural changes to cut costs through so-called zero-based budgeting and by eliminating vacant positions.

The mayor also turned to several one-time fixes to close the gap rather than calling for large-scale revenue increases such as property tax hikes that would have hit broad swaths of Chicagoans and been difficult politically.

Many aldermen were happy there was no big property tax jump in the mayor’s proposed budget for 2020, and passed her package 39-11. But some of them wondered privately why she didn’t leverage her popularity coming off her election win to ram through a hike then rather than waiting until later in her term.

Last year, Lightfoot scored a relatively narrow but important victory as the City Council adopted her $12.8 billion budget for 2021, which included a $94 million property tax hike and controversial debt refinancing to help close a $1.2 billion deficit. She called it her “pandemic budget.”

Aldermen voted 28-22 in support of the property tax increase and passed the full budget by a 29-21 vote.

That budget also included a provision to raise property taxes annually by an amount tied to the consumer price index. It raised gas taxes by 3 cents per gallon and relied on an increase in fines and fees collection, including a plan to boost revenue by ticketing residents who are caught going 6 mph over the limit by speed cameras.

In addition, Lightfoot asked to refinance $501 million in city debt for the 2021 budget, which would provide a jolt of new revenue next year but likely cost taxpayers more down the road. Similar borrowing tactics under Mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel drew deep criticism.

Behind the scenes, Lightfoot worked hard last year to generate support for her budget. In a meeting with the Black Caucus, Lightfoot told aldermen that those who don’t support her budget shouldn’t expect their wards to be prioritized and added, “Don’t come to me for s— for the next three years” if they didn’t support her spending plan.

©2021 Chicago Tribune. 

Visit chicagotribune.com

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Plan to Boost Police Numbers Thrusts Calif. City into Funding Debate

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A proposal to add two more police academies than the four scheduled over the next couple of years has stirred up a contentious debate about how to finance public safety in Oakland.

September 18, 2021 – By Annie Sciacca – Source East Bay Times

Less than three months after it decided to give the police department less money than what the mayor had proposed, the Oakland City Council is wading into a new debate about whether more officers are needed to tackle this year’s surge of gun violence.

District 4 City Councilmember Sheng Thao, who was among the council majority who shot down Mayor Libby Schaaf’s proposal, created a stir last week when she announced a plan to add two more police academies than the four scheduled over the next couple of years to boost the number of officers on the streets.

“I think Oakland needs more and better policing,” Thao said in an interview. Before they can hit Oakland’s streets, police officers must undergo rigorous training for 27 weeks at the police academies.

Thao’s proposal, which will likely be considered at the Sept. 21 council meeting, thrusts the city right back into the middle of a contentious debate about how to fund public safety and what to do with a police department that has regularly overspent its budget.

Thao insists she isn’t doing an about-face since the June budget vote.

“On the dais, I stated that the current proposal at that time was premature and that I would work with the police chief to bring it back when it was more fleshed out,” she said.

Thao proposes to pay for one of the extra academies from expenses the police department saved by training far fewer than the 45 officers per class it was supposed to graduate in each of the past two academies. Each academy costs between $3.4 million and $3.7 million.

She said the other academy can be funded at least in part from the police department’s overtime budget. Adding to the department’s 698 sworn officers should help reduce the need for overtime spending in the future, Thao said.

At a time when homicides and other gun-violence crimes are still on the rise — 91 people have been killed in Oakland so far this year as of Monday afternoon — city officials have faced mounting pressure to do something.

In a press release last week, police union president Barry Donelan linked the council to the violence. He said “the ongoing vilification of Oakland Police Officers by City Council Members has helped drive attrition within the police department” and noted that the number of officers had fallen to below 700 for the first time in years.

“On average, the police department loses ten officers a month, mainly to other agencies where their service is valued, unlike Oakland,” he said.

The department is authorized to have 737 officers, not including 55 frozen positions.

Even 737 officers may not be enough to curb the violence, police Chief LeRonne Armstrong suggests. In a written statement, Armstrong said the city must evaluate whether 737 “is the appropriate number of officers needed to address the increase in violent crimes, calls for service, and the federal oversight, that we at OPD are being asked to address.”

He said the combination of those factors “is beginning to have a substantial impact on our officers’ wellness, both physically and mentally. Although we have fewer staff members, they are still responsible for managing the same day-to-day workload that we had when there were more officers at OPD.”

Measure Z, a parcel tax that voters approved in 2014 to boost police staffing and community violence prevention services, requires the city to maintain at least 678 sworn officers before the money can be used.

Thao said that requirement is another reason she is pushing for more academies.

Since 2018, about 67% of people who started the police department’s basic recruit academy completed it, according to the department’s information memo to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee. In the current academy that began in July, 26 trainees are slated to graduate, even though there are 45 spots.

“We need to fix those core failures,” Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said, adding that she wants more information about how the police department is planning to remedy recruiting issues and retain a diversity of officers — including women — before she commits to adding academies.

“It’s not just about doing it more or less, but about doing it better,” Kaplan said.

Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas said she is wary of spending more on policing.

“Our public budget really needs to have the accompanying evaluation in terms of effectiveness,” she said. “I’ve been really clear I want our public safety infrastructure to be effective with effective and accountable policing, as well as public parks, libraries, jobs, housing. All those things together make safer and more stable communities.”

Thao said she’s confident that some changes to the recruitment process — such as partnering with Merritt College’s law enforcement training program — will help build a strong network of trainees. She said she’s also asking the city administration to explore the cost of offering childcare to trainees and officers.

Last year, the City Council formed a task force to rethink public safety in the city, with the goal of reducing the police department budget by 50% over two years.

Although the council did not ultimately defund the police department in the 2021-23 budget — it actually increased its funding by $38.5 million — it froze about 55 sworn police positions and boosted spending for other public safety services, including investments in civilian responses to mental health and other non-crime crises.

Getting those programs running and “addressing the 60% of (police) calls to service that don’t go to violent crime — those absolutely have to go to other departments,” Fortunato Bas said of the funds. “That’s the main way we’re going to be able to allow police officers to have a more realistic job.”

Thao agrees but says all avenues need to be explored.

“People speak about it like they’re mutually exclusive,” Thao said. “We must invest deeply into our preventive care. The same token, we must take seriously the response time for more violent crimes. These two items go hand in hand.”

(c)2021 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

Visit the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) at www.eastbaytimes.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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