One Step Forward; Two Steps Back

Yesterday, the Mayor posted the job announcement for police chief candidates, which led with a statement about the “history of legally sanctioned systemic racism with legally enforced exclusionary practices” in the City. Understandably, the verbiage and the tenor of the job posting left many in the rank and file angry and confused, as the clear implication from the posting is that the Police Bureau and its members have supported a racist culture in the City.

On a day that has been set aside to recognize law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others and a day dedicated to the 36th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, not a single mention was made of the hard work, dedication, professionalism, and integrity that Portland Police Bureau rank and file bring to the job every day.

There was no mention of the PPB Behavioral Health Unit’s recent national recognition for their ground-breaking efforts in working with citizens with mental illness or in a mental health crisis.

There was no mention of the, still short staffed, Gang Enforcement Team whose hard work is evident in the 40% reduction of gang shootings from this time last year.

There was no mention of the fact that although patrol officers are taking more calls for service, detective caseloads have increased, and other specialty units have been decimated by staffing cuts, our communities are still getting the exceptional services they expect and deserve.

The Police Bureau continues to struggle with inadequate staffing and, despite the baggage left after the forced retirement of ex-Chief Larry O’Dea, Chief Marshman and his staff have managed to hold the Bureau together, raising morale, providing leadership, and ensuring stability.

The job announcement neglected to reference to the strength of our rank and file who work diligently to meet the changing and evolving needs of our diverse community, embrace community-policing concepts, and continue in steadfast dedication to build trust in all the communities we serve. The foundation of the Portland Police Bureau is the rank and file who are on the ground doing the work, 24/7; they have earned, at a minimum, honorable mention.

The first paragraph of the Mayor’s job posting shows blatant disregard for the decades of forward progress and is not representative of the Portland Police Bureau today. I urge our elected officials not to discount the relationships, partnerships, and friendships that our officers have built in our city. The job announcement does not accurately reflect our Police Bureau and its members. Certainly, it does nothing to aid in recruiting and retaining a police chief, let alone rank and file officers.

Daryl Turner, President