Tribune poll: Readers split on Portland police protest responses, future
Pamplin Media Group newspaper readers are deeply divided over the actions and future of the Portland Police Bureau, according to an email survey conducted during the 54th consecutive day and night of racial justice protests in Portland.
Asked on July 21 if the police responses at the nightly protests were appropriate for the situation, 54.3% said no and 46.6% said yes.
"Demilitarize the police force and their mission," said one Lents subscriber.
"Heavy emphasis on de-escalation training and application," recommended one Tigard resident.
"Support law and order. Eliminate the violence that is happening night after night," wrote one Beaverton resident.
"Demilitarize police. Focus on protect and service, not treating citizens like we are enemies," volunteered one Jennings Lodge subscriber.
"Shift from 'warrior' mindset to 'guardian' mindset," said one Beaverton subscriber.
The poll came in the wake of a Portland Tribune editorial, published online Sunday, July 19, calling on city police and political leadership to come up with a plan to end the hostility. Mayor Ted Wheeler responded by saying he would address a nightly crowd of protesters. The time and venue for that are to be determined.
The City Council recently cut the Portland Police Bureau Budget by $24 million and abolished four tactical units. But asked how they favor modifying the police department, most respondents — 54.8% — said by increasing funding. Another 48% said by shifting funds to alternative programs. Only 2.7% favored eliminating the department and just 1.7% chose reducing funds.
"Enhance training of police officers and other government service workers to better prevent racial divides and acceptance of multi-racial and multi-cultural communities," wrote one Southeast Portland subscriber.
"Don't expect officers to be social workers or counselors. Fund these programs separately," wrote one Milwaukie subscriber.
"Put more money into education and affordable housing," wrote one Rose City Park subscriber.
Only around half of respondents know about the most widely publicized alternative to traditional policing, however. Just 49.9% said they were familiar with the Portland Street Response program, which soon will be pairing a paramedic with a mental health expert to respond to 911 calls that do not require the police.
"Have a coordinated team of street response professionals," wrote one Hillsboro subscriber who was familiar with the concept.
One idea discussed in the past has little support. Asked if the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office should take over the Portland Police Bureau's duties, 48.3% said no, 14.6% said yes, and 37.1% said they don't know.
Asked if the problems with policing was just a Portland thing or whether there are also problems in the suburbs, 49.8% said yes, 28.1% said no, and 22% said they don't know.
The Pamplin Media Group publishes 25 newspapers, most in the Portland metro region. The survey was not intended to be scientific. It was conducted by emailing questions to approximately 190,000 subscribers of all PMG newspapers. Around 3,200 have responded.
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