Today, the Portland Police Association filed a grievance over the officer safety and workload issues that have arisen given the dangerously low staffing levels of the Portland Police Bureau. For years, the PPA has urged City and Police Bureau leaders to address this critical staffing issue through dialogue and collaboration. Unfortunately, the only outcome has been an incomplete staffing survey performed without any input or opportunity for feedback from the PPA. Hiring five sworn officers, which was the recommendation of the City’s consultant, doesn’t come even remotely close enough to solving our staffing problems.
The PPB’s primary function as a law enforcement agency is to respond to calls for service, investigate crimes, and engage with the community. In the past—with adequate staffing—officers were able to fulfill that mission in a proactive manner. However, with our current staffing levels, these same officers are now forced to be reactive, causing safety issues for the officers responding to calls as well as for the community at large. It is City Hall’s responsibility to provide for the safety of our citizens by giving our officers the tools, budget, and support they need to do their jobs in a proactive, engaging manner.
Our primary goal in filing this grievance is to keep our officers and the communities they serve safe, while giving officers the ability to be proactive in their duties. This is no longer possible with the current staffing levels. It’s time for us to work aggressively towards a realistic solution to this problem.