By Lori Chavez-DeRemer
Through my experience in public service as the previous mayor of Happy Valley, I know how important it is to keep our families safe. While we have spent the past year protecting our health from the pandemic, now the more pressing issue we are facing in Oregon is violent crime. We all watched as the city of Portland was overrun with lawlessness – rioting on a regular basis and a surge in violence– and no one was on the side of those protecting us, our police.
Our brave men and women in uniform from all do their part to ensure we are safe. These individuals deserve the respect of the communities they serve. But sadly, that has been far from what they have received. The radical left has done everything they can to dismantle these institutions that were designed to protect us. Specifically, they are targeting our heroic first responders under one uniting rallying cry: “Defund the Police.”
The police functions just like any other public agency. For our law enforcement to operate successfully, we must support them through funding measures and public transparency. Yet, we have a segment of our society working to tear that down. Instead, critics are promoting a vision that endangers us all. Just in this past year, the city of Portland slashed more than $26 million from the police budget, with $15 million of this cut being forced by the Defund movement.
I have always been supportive and grateful for our police. During my tenure as mayor of Happy Valley, we led the effort to ensure that the police force had the resources to perform their duties to the best of their ability – a fully funded police budget with well-equipped staff that handles more than 3000 calls every year. As a result of a dedicated police in Happy Valley, 911 response times were shortened, which provided a safer and ‘happier’ community.
It wasn’t always easy. In 2014, a measure to renew a levy for the Happy Valley’s police department lost by one vote, threatening to eliminate the entirety of the police department- recognizing the repercussions of losing the entirety of our police force and issuing an official statement expressing the severe negative impact this would have to our community. I could not sit idly while watching Happy Valley’s police department disappear without a fight. Our city police would revert to the county which would lose our patrol services for one of Oregon’s fastest growing cities.
The following May, our team embarked on a truly grassroots effort to give funding back to our police and keep Happy Valley’s police in the city. I personally knocked on hundreds of doors, spoke at neighborhood meetings, and participated in community events to inform local citizens of the positive influence police services can have. As a direct result, the Happy Valley police levy won with more than 80% of the vote. This allowed us to keep our Happy Valley police force intact and kept our communities safe.
I’ve witnessed the potential detriment of a defunded police force. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, you are seeing mayors all over the country, including those of New York City and Baltimore have begun to reinstate the budget for their police forces due to the rise in crime and violence against racial groups. Here in Portland, our homicide rate is up by 800%. Now, more than ever, we need to elect and rally on the side of law-and-order, and those elected officials who can address this issue head-on. It is time to take our safety back into our own hands.
Lori Chavez-DeRemer is the former mayor of Happy Valley from 2010-2018, overseeing Oregon’s fastest growing city. Her and her husband own and operate several medical clinics throughout the Pacific Northwest.