On August 1, 2020, the Portland Police Bureau will come face-to-face with its most daunting challenge ever. Nearly 150 cops will become eligible to retire, either by time in service or by age. The Bureau is already facing catastrophic staffing shortages with about 125 vacant sworn officer positions while recruiting and retention efforts are falling short. Every day at each precinct, a shift goes short-staffed and officers are working so much precinct overtime that burnout is a reality.
Even with the changes in hiring standards, we’re seeing fewer qualified applicants. Retaining and recruiting quality police officers must be a priority if we are going to continue to provide the service and protection the residents of Portland expect and deserve.
Chief Outlaw has made proactive policing a priority; however, for the rank and file, every day is a vicious cycle of balancing calls for service, response times, proactive policing, and availing the limited resources at our disposal.
As the responsibilities of our officers continue to increase and with the inadequate staffing, how can we respond to the increasing livability issues we see in our neighborhoods today? How can we respond to the gun violence that puts all Portlanders in danger? How can we help the most vulnerable in our community; the mentally ill, disabled, houseless, and those facing addiction issues?
After meeting with Mayor Wheeler to discuss these issues, I’ve requested to meet with all four City Commissioners over the next month for their input, as well. During my tenure as PPA President, Commissioners Fish and Fritz have been strong advocates of police accountability while also supporting our officers, the need for greater authorized staffing, and recruiting and retention strategies. I am hopeful that these meetings will provide useful input.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve met with several neighborhood and business association groups and they all have unequivocally voiced their support for increased police staffing to enhance the already exemplary work being done by our officers, detectives, sergeants, and criminalists. Solving our staffing problems through recruiting and retention goes hand-in-hand with keeping our communities safe and getting Portland moving in the right direction. It will take all of us — the Bureau, City Hall, the PPA, and the communities we serve — working together to be successful in this endeavor.
Daryl Turner, President
Portland Police Association