Authorized Staffing Level of the Portland Police Bureau

MEMORANDUM

TO:
Portland City Council

FROM:
Daryl Turner, President
Portland Police Association

DATE:
October 31, 2017

SUBJECT:
Authorized Staffing Level of the Portland Police Bureau

CC:
Chief Danielle Outlaw, PPB


Over the last twenty years, the City of Portland population has grown by over 20%. The Portland metropolitan area is now the 14th fastest-growing metro area in the United States.  While the City has been steadily growing, the authorized staffing level for the Portland Police Bureau has seen a 9% decrease. The face of our City has changed dramatically. The needs of our communities have evolved. Yet our public safety infrastructure is weakening.

Crime statistics are massaged and categorized to show that crime is down, but a drive through our City on any given day confirms the overt livability issues, homelessness crisis, and opioid epidemic. From the West Hills to South Waterfront, the Pearl District out to East County, inadequate police staffing has a visibly negative impact on the quality of life in our City.

Exceptional policing takes time. We want to continue to connect citizens with the services they need. We want to continue to build relationships and community trust. But we just don’t have the time with our current resources. The reality of a growing population is more calls for service and more demand for priority crime prevention and investigation. That leaves precious little time for proactive work, self-initiated activity, and community engagement.

We should have enough police officers to ensure the safety of our citizens and our officers and to meet our community’s public safety priorities: responding to calls for service; investigating and solving crimes; addressing gun and gang violence; serving those impacted by homelessness; assisting citizens with mental illness and those in mental health crises; engaging with our communities; and conducting proactive policing and self-initiated activity.

The rank and file of the Portland Police Bureau do an outstanding job despite consistently working with insufficient staffing levels. The Portland Police Bureau leadership has requested that City Council approve over hiring dozens of officers with one-time funds. This is only a short-term, temporary fix for a systemic problem. Portland deserves a long-term solution: a permanent increase in the Portland Police Bureau’s authorized staffing proportionate to the growth and needs of our diverse and evolving community.

As we head into the Fall 2017 budget monitoring process and look ahead to the FY 2018 and FY 2019 budget processes, City Council should adopt the following strategic succession plan to ensure our Police Bureau can properly service our community:

  1. FY 2017-18 Fall BMP: Approve the Portland Police Bureau’s request to over hire 50 officers and to fund 35 limited duration positions in the retire-rehire program, for a total of 85 positions.
  2. FY 2018-19: Increase the number of permanent, authorized FTE positions in the Police Bureau by 100 sworn officers for a total of 1,050 sworn FTEs.
  3. FY 2019-20: Increase the number of permanent, authorized FTE positions in the Police Bureau by 150 sworn officers for a total of 1,200 sworn FTEs.

To help you better understand the scope and exigency of the problem, we have enclosed a staffing report for your review. We are at a tipping point; the quality of life and safety in our great City is at stake. Now is the time to act.

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