Former Portland Police Chief Slams City Council for Permitting Violence

The aftermath of an anti-police riot in Portland / Getty Images
September 3, 2020

Former Portland police chief Derrick Foxworth Sr. criticized the city council and other local officials for failing to condemn violence after a 16-year-old was fatally shot last Thursday.

Foxworth, Portland’s top cop from 2003 to 2006, told Portland’s NBC affiliate KGW8 that he decided to speak out because of how city officials’ "deafening silence" has harmed the black community. He suggested the Aug. 27 killing of Jaelin Scott was the result of Portland City Council’s attempts to reform the city’s police department, as massive budget cuts led the police department to cut back on its gang violence unit.

"I see what is happening to the black community," Foxworth said. "My heart was broken to see a 16-year-old boy, young man, shot and killed. And there is no one out there saying anything about it."

Foxworth said cutting the police department's budget has led to an uptick in shootings—of which many of the victims are black.

"Chief [Chuck] Lovell had his budget slashed by millions of dollars, and that directly affected a specialty unit that was focused on gang violence prevention," Foxworth told KGW8. "And when that unit went away, there was nothing to replace it…. And so now what you’re seeing is unprecedented shootings in the city of Portland. And the sad fact is that many of the victims of the shootings happen to be black."

While Foxworth said he supports efforts to reform the police, he condemned the violence that’s beset Portland this summer and called on local officials to do the same. The former police chief said he believes the "criminal behavior" detracts from the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement and "places people's lives at risk."

Portland City Council responded to protesters’ calls to defund the police in June when they passed a $15 million budget cut to the city’s police department. Nightly riots that began in May have strained the city’s police force—after one particularly violent night in August, the police department left dozens of 911 calls unanswered as all available officers were already dispatched to respond to riots. Members of the community, including some leftist organizations and business owners, have recently slammed Mayor Ted Wheeler (D.) and other government officials for failing to quell the violence—which Wheeler said he believes will just "burn itself out."