A bad Lyft ride just exposed the hypocrisy of a defund-the-police advocate in Portland, Oregon. City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has fought to cut funding for police and advocated they not respond to all 9-1-1 calls, yet a police response is what she demanded when her Lyft ride didn’t go her way. This is a case of defund for thee, but not for me.

Here’s the story

Recently, Hardesty called for a Lyft ride to pick her up at a casino and take her home. The ride was probably doomed from the start as The Oregonian described the tumultuous ride during which the driver and Hardesty argued over the pickup spot and windows being cracked open for COVID-19 safety precautions. She didn’t want him to keep a car window slightly open even though he told her it was for both of their safety.

Driver, Richmond Frost, ended the ride early and attempted to drop her off at a well-lit gas station so that she could arrange another ride home. That drove an already agitated Hardesty over the edge. She refused to leave his vehicle but instead called the police.

The 9-1-1 dispatcher had to break the news to this city commissioner that no laws were broken and as a civil matter, a police officer was not warranted.

Eventually, the dispatcher sent a police car but noted that if an emergency arose, the police officer would be diverted.

In her complaint, Hardesty argued the reason she needed police intervention:

It is totally inappropriate to expect a woman to get out of a vehicle in the dead of night because any angry person demands it. This is a safety issue for your customer. Your driver was in no danger.

Hardesty’s campaign to defund the police

Hardesty has successfully campaigned to defund Portland’s police force. In June, she spearheaded an effort to cut an additional $15 million from the police budget on top of a 5.6 percent budget reduction that all agencies were mandated to comply with due to a pandemic-driven budget shortfall. Now, she’s advocating for another $18 million in police funding additional cuts, especially for crowd control and the city’s SWAT team.

Hardesty has said that a police officer is not needed to respond to every emergency call. Perhaps she’s right. She also argues that the city can simply reallocate resources to poverty programs and that will reduce crime. (That assumes that poverty is the reason people commit crimes.) She ignores that cutting police resources will likely reduce response time for emergencies and incidents such as her Lyft ride gone wrong. 

Not everyone wants police presence in their neighborhoods reduced. In fact, most Americans, including minorities, want more funding for police and greater police presence. They also support policing reforms to help restore the lost trust between police officers and the communities they serve.

Police for me, not for thee

Hardesty’s hypocrisy is blinding. Despite no crime or real harm to her safety she still expected a police response, yet her policies would rob her constituents of the same security and help in their times of danger and distress. Public safety is a top responsibility for the government. It’s hypocritical to remove police presence for those you serve while demanding it for yourself.