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Black Portland police sergeant speaks about why ‘defund the police’ concerns him

Written by on August 10, 2020

Calls to defund the police have left one pragmatic Black cop in Portland with a high level of concern, according to a report in The Oregonian.

“It’s really counterproductive to having well trained officers,” police Sgt. Derrick Foxworth said amid heated protests, increasing gun violence, calls for reforms and budget cuts.

To train, there must be funding, he said. He noted good cops can’t come from money taken away from law enforcement.

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He said training is always about how to get better. He said budget cuts always affect training first.

In June, the City Council cut nearly $16 million from the Police Bureau budget. The cuts shuttered programs like the gun violence reduction unit, a youth services program and ended the presence of school resource officers in three school districts.

In July, the city experienced a sharp rise in gun violence that has overwhelmingly hurt Black people. There were 99 shootings — more than triple the amount from the previous July — and the city has tallied 366 non-suicide shootings this year compared to 388 in all of 2019. Roughly two-thirds of the victims in July were Black, said Foxworth.

Foxworth said July was the most violent month in the Oregon city in 30 years.

“It’s frustrating … to see the level of violence in our city in the last 60 days and it has to stop.”

He said cops can’t have status quo and must always be seeking improvement, and it’s up to communities working with law enforcement.

Officers and communities must have a relationship outside crisis mode to build up trust and intimacies, Foxworth explained to The Oregonian.

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Before reform, he said there must be education.

He wants the people of his city to figure out their expectations of police.

There has been so much emotion but at the end of the day when we take off our badge we are part of the community and the public, Foxworth told the publication. “We are just people at the end of the day that are really dedicated to serving our community.”

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