- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 9, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said Tuesday he will make policing changes that include ending the use of patrol officers on public transit and redirecting $7 million from the police budget to other areas.

Wheeler said in a news conference he also plans to dissolve the police gun violence reduction unit, ban choke holds and reform the use of consent searches in traffic stops. He said bold action is necessary in the wake of nationwide protests against the death of George Floyd in police custody Minneapolis.

Wheeler said he recognizes specific demands have been made from the black community to Portland city leaders for the past several years to reallocate dollars and invest in re-imagining public safety.

“I should have acted with greater urgency on these demands,” he said.

He said the actions announced Tuesday were those he could begin to put in place fairly quickly.

He said officers will be pulled from public transit by the end of the year and that he and others would create a more trusted police accountability panel, “with more teeth,” than the current Independent Police Review committee under the city auditor’s office.

On Monday, Portland Police Bureau Chief Jami Resch said she was stepping down amid criticism of her department’s handling of protests. Lt. Chuck Lovell, who is black, became the new chief.

Lovell said Tuesday during the news conference that policing is at a crossroads and that he supports investments and steps toward healing in the community.

“We’re listening and we’re hearing and we’re trying to align our department with what the community’s been asking for,” he said. “We remain committed to building trust in the community and particularly in communities of color.”

He also asked people to support the officers during this time of change.

Last week Wheeler, along with Portland Public Schools, decided to remove armed police officers from schools in Portland.

Wheeler on Saturday directed the Portland Police Bureau not to use tear gas, or CS gas, unless there is “a serious and immediate threat to life safety.”

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