BLUE CITY CHAOS: Portland officials tell residents not to call 911 because system is overloaded
10/08/2023 // Ethan Huff // Views

Rene Gonzalez, the city commissioner of public safety in Portland, is urging residents not to call 911 unless absolutely necessary because the system is being overwhelmed with calls about overdoses.

In a social media post, Gonzalez explained the situation and asked city residents for help during this difficult time to keep the phone lines running for only the most serious of emergencies.

"Our 911 system is getting hammered this morning with a multiple person incident – multiple overdoses in northwest park blocks," Gonzalez said. "Please do not call 911 except in event of life/death emergency or crime in progress (or chance of apprehending suspect). For non-emergency please use 503-823-3333."

In speaking with "On Balance" host Leland Vittert about the situation, Gonzalez said that the 911 system in Portland is completely overloaded and that something must be done to not only keep it going but also to help those in need.

"Our 911 systems are overwhelmed right now. So, we've got to confront this crisis head-on ... We need to take a strong stand in Portland."

(Related: Portland has lost more than a billion dollars as crime and homelessness send residents fleeing for greener pastures.)

COVID "pandemic" caused Oregon's Measure 110's addiction services rollout to stall, which is why this is now happening

Back in 2020, Oregon voters passed via referendum Measure 110, a bill that decriminalized the unlawful possession of controlled substances. What this means is that penalties for drug possession were reduced from a felony or misdemeanor to a simple Class E violation, which is punishable with a $100 fine.

The goal of the bill was to clear out the jails of non-violent offenders while implementing a new addiction services mechanism throughout the state that would help those addicted to harmful substances find rehabilitation rather than simply be thrown in prison by the Prison Industrial Complex.

The problem is that Measure 110 took effect right during the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) "pandemic," which limited the rollout of the addiction services portion of Measure 110. As a result, jail time is down, but overdose deaths are way up.

"But that's what voters were sold on," Gonzalez explained, referring to the addiction services component of the legislation. "That we were decriminalizing addiction, that we would set up substantial, state-level addiction services that just didn't come about. I think that was the surprise."

"What was predictable is that Measure 110 would attract certain elements to the city that were looking for that lifestyle, and as a city, we're taking a hard stand increasingly to push back on that now."

Were drugs to be decriminalized all across the nation, those seeking that kind of "lifestyle," as Gonzalez puts it, would stay in their own areas and seek help there. Instead, many of them flee from states where drug laws are harsh and head on over to Oregon instead, which is exacerbating the problem.

"You know, the combination of Measure 110 and the 9th Circuit law on outdoor camping has really tied the city's hands to address these issues," Gonzalez added. "Frankly, we were probably too tolerant and accepting as a city even without those things on some of these behaviors that really destroy livability for everyone else."

"It's going to take multiple steps (to fix). There's no two ways about it, and you need all levels of government working in the same direction. We've been pushing certain forms of judicial reform for the last decade in the state and in our county. We're now paying the piper for that. Some well-intentioned things have had some really negative impacts."

America seems to be on the fast-track to hell, both red and blue. Learn more at

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