Last Wednesday, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell informed the department that he will resign from his position, leaving behind a legacy of chaos in a city that is immersed in a severe drug addiction and crime crisis, according to the local newspaper The Oregonian.
"Personally, for me, it's a time for transition," Lovell told The Oregonian, which reported that the chief will retire on October 11, just four years before he becomes eligible for retirement.
Lovell's announcement comes days after Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler announced that he will not run for a third term in 2024.
"We've started to rebuild and navigate some really tough times. I just want to thank the members of the Portland Police Bureau for the hard work that they do every day on behalf of our city," Lovell said. "And I want to thank the community members that have supported me throughout my career."
Mayor Wheeler said Bob Day, a retired Portland police veteran, will be the city's interim chief until the next one is elected in 2025.
The legacy of Chuck Lovell
Under Lovell's watch, the Portland Police Department went through a period of palpable instability.
During the protests in the summer of 2020, following the death of George Floyd, the movement Defund the Police hit deep in Oregon and one of the departments affected nationally was Portland, which received a harsh $15 million budget cut just after suffering another a $17 million cut due to the pandemic.
That situation caused the office led by Lovell to be tremendously reduced and decimated when it came to addressing crime in Portland.
During his administration, Portland suffered a tremendous drug crisis that increased the number of homeless people by 50% and generated an increase in various crime rates.
For example, since the authorities cut the police budget, crime has not stopped increasing and during 2022 the homicide record was even broken with more than 90 murders being recorded.
Not only did homicides increase, but vandalism also increased during Lovell's watch. This caused the closure of branches of large companies such as Walmart or Nike, who announced their withdrawal from Portland after dealing with security problems in the city and noticing that the performance of these stores was below expectations.
The vandalism not only affected large sports or food chains but also small business owners.
Last March, the Bricks Need Mortar organization published a survey that revealed that a surprising 79% of small businesses suffered assaults or were vandalized in 2022, demonstrating that the security crisis has been in crescendo year after year since 2020.
The group first conducted a survey in January 2022 and found that 63% of respondents had their businesses vandalized or robbed in the previous 18 months. However, a second one focused on just 12 months of 2022 showed that this figure had increased to 79% in a shorter period of time.
Of the 79%, approximately 62% of businesses said they suffered vandalism or theft on more than one occasion.
This drug addiction, homelessness and crime crisis caused a tremendous fiscal hole in Portland of $1 billion as a result of the emigration of more than 15,000 residents who, for the most part, were taxpayers from high-income families.