The brother-in-law of Jacob Eli Knight Vasquez who was murdered by a stray bullet on Friday is begging Oregon’s leadership to “please untie the hands of our law enforcement officers.” Vasquez, 34, was at a pizza bar in the thriving dining scene of northwest Portland, then headed to a bar to get a drink across the street from the tavern where he worked when shots rang out and he was struck by a stray bullet and died at the scene.
Portland police have suffered from budget cuts and are struggling with a force of 128 officers below its authorized strength, despite the rapid increase of crime in the area. “Since August 2020, about 200 officers have left the department” reports the Associated Press. Exit interviews “cited low morale, lack of support from city officials and burnout from months of racial justice protests.”
Vasquez’s brother-in-law Don Osborn echoes the sentiments of many in liberal cities that have actively castrated their law enforcement departments. “I believe if the proper tools were in place for our law enforcement officers, this wouldn’t even have happened,” he said.
The AP writes Vasquez’s murder “in late September was one of the 67 homicides this year in Portland, which has surpassed its previous full-year record of 66 in 1987. And with more than two months remaining in the year, Portland will likely shatter its previous high mark.”
So far in 2021, Portland has experienced over 1,000 shootings. “At least 314 people have been injured by bullets, and firearms have accounted for three-quarters of homicides. Police also attribute much of the gunfire to gangs, fights and retaliation killings, but they are also affecting bystanders.”
“In a metropolis wracked by gang violence, fear and frustration have settled over Portland as stories like Vasquez’s make some wary to go out at night” reports the AP. “Unlike previous years” now innocent people unrelated to gangs are being murdered – “from people mourning at vigils and sitting in cars to children playing in a park.”
Daryl Turner, executive director of Portland’s police union says the city needs to hire 840 officers in the next five years. “We are running on fumes. There’s no way we can investigate thoroughly, and correctly, all these shootings.”
Turner said the increase in violence is related directly to the budget cuts. City leaders slashed $27 million from the police budget last year. $11 million due to the pandemic-caused budget crisis, “a decision that Turner says has cost lives.”
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