In the past three days, I have received 217 emails notifying me that people (some Portlanders, some not) have signed an on-line petition asking to preserve funding for the Portland Police Bureau's Mounted Patrol. Unfortunately, the web site generating this petition does not provide me with the emails of those signing, so I have no way to reply to each person individually. I am therefore posting this response in the hope that some of the petitioners will read it. This is not a particularly satisfying human interaction, more my computer posting information in response to the petitioner's computer, but the best I can do. Note: On line petitions are far less effective than direct individual emails, even if you send just one sentence of your own thoughts!
This is a difficult budget, slashing at least $20 million after four years of cuts. There are few easy targets, and many who support each service currently being funded. I will work with my colleagues on the Council, considering all community input, to make decisions that provide the most services to the people and principles most in need of support. We will be making choices such Mounted Patrol vs winter shelter for homeless women? Mounted Patrol vs 9-1-1 operators? Mounted Patrol vs after school programs for disadvantaged kids? These are just a few examples of the stark realities – we don’t have enough money for all of the worthy programs currently being funded, and donations from Friends of the Mounted Patrol don’t come close to covering the ongoing expenses.
The challenge is not only the extra funding needed for the horses, rather prioritizing which police functions are more vital in crime prevention and community safety than others. We likely need to cut at least 40 police officer positions. So the choice is Mounted Patrol officers vs School Resource officers? Mounted Patrol officers vs Gang Enforcement officers? Mounted Patrol vs child abuse investigators? Mounted Patrol officers downtown vs District Patrol officers in outer neighborhoods?
I would be interested to read Portlanders' priorities on these funding choice examples. Please send your comments directly to me at Amanda@portlandoregon.gov You are welcome to post your opinions here to discuss with others, however I will be using my time to respond to direct emails rather than interacting on the comment string here.