The mission of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is clear to the rank and file, brave men and women who serve their communities. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing, unacceptably low staffing levels of the Bureau, our efforts to provide timely service to our community has been hampered. Daily, every shift in every precinct runs below minimums and hires on overtime because there are just not enough officers!
Last week, Mayor Hales announced a partnership effort and outreach to provide services for the homeless in our community.
“This is about focusing our services to those residents most at-risk, those most in need of housing and service. Thanks to our partners, the service providers, we will look to find services for those homeless Portlanders who require more intensive assistance.”
– Mayor Hales
The PPA wholeheartedly supports this much needed, multi-program initiative that addresses the systemic breakdown in the plight of the homeless in Portland. However, we believe these efforts fall short to meet the needs of residents and business owners in the City of Portland who are also impacted by livability issues surrounding homelessness.
One of the primary services to residents who are most at risk is law enforcement. We are a vital resource not only for the homeless community but also for the residents and business owners. Over the 24 + years that I’ve served the Bureau, our elected and appointed leaders have provided inconsistent direction and an unclear message on how law enforcement should resolve these issues.
Portland Police Officers are on the front lines, 24/7. We see the needs and address them to the best of our abilities. We take law enforcement action when appropriate. We search for resources to meet those needs. We respond to complaints about livability issues such as:
- People sleeping in the doorways of businesses and residences
- Use of those public places as bathrooms
- Garbage and bio-hazards such as syringes and condoms left behind
Often our hands are tied by the lack of consistent direction, resources, and most of all by dangerously inadequate staffing levels. As referenced by Chief O’ Dea’s email last week, “Many Bureaus are involved with this work, but not nearly as visible as the PPB.” We are not only the most visible Bureau but also the most requested resource; yet, our staffing issues remain unaddressed in the ongoing conversation.
Portland Police Officers are well trained, highly motivated, and dedicated to serving their communities with respect, compassion, and equity; 24/7. Accountability should not fall solely on the shoulders of Portland Police Officers; it does not discriminate. We are all accountable to answer the calls of the community, public servant and elected official alike. That is our job. That is our mandate. That is what the citizens of Portland deserve. No exceptions.
Daryl Turner, President
Portland Police Association