Police clarify chief's comment on response time - KPTV - FOX 12

Police clarify chief's comment on response time

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The Portland Police Bureau released the following statement Friday, Nov. 18, clarifying a response to question posed to Police Chief Mike Reese.


On Thursday, November 17, 2011, during a television news interview about the N17 protest in Portland, Chief Mike Reese stated that a victim of a sexual assault had to wait three hours for Portland Police officers to respond due to police resources being tied up with Occupy Portland-related events. This statement has raised community concerns regarding police resources and it's important to put this information into context.

The Portland Police Bureau has faced significant staffing challenges during the Occupy Portland encampments and subsequent events. On Sunday, November 6, 2011, at 1:47 p.m., a 15-year-old girl called to report that she had been the victim of a sexual assault two days earlier, and that the suspect had been sexually assaulting her for months. The call was initially dispatched to police at 1:56 p.m., but a sergeant advised that the call would need to hold for awhile as there were only two free cars to respond to emergency calls in Central Precinct. An officer contacted the victim briefly and explained that all officers were tied up, but than an officer would be back to talk to her as soon as more officers were available. It is important to note the victim was in a safe location, away from the suspect. An officer responded to the victim's location at 5:16 p.m. and began an investigation, which later involved Sex Crimes Unit Detectives.

During the period that this victim had to wait, Central Precinct officers were responding to a shooting investigation at Northeast 66th and Sandy Boulevard where the Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) and Crisis Negotiators were involved; an incident in Forest Park where two Park Rangers were attacked; as well as being detailed to the ongoing Occupy Portland encampments in Chapman and Lownsdale Squares. Also, at approximately 2:00 p.m., a rally and march for Occupy Portland tied up most remaining police resources until approximately 4:30 p.m.

Additionally, Central Precinct officers were also covering East Precinct calls because of the SERT call and a serious traffic crash that shut down the intersection of Northeast 82nd and Prescott Street. Central Precinct day shift was at their minimum staffing level, which is 16 officers and 2 sergeants, plus 3 officers strictly dedicated to the Occupy Portland encampments.

The Police Bureau is a very lean organization and when several events are happening at the same time, police resources are often tapped to cover the priority calls while lower priority calls that have no immediate danger must hold until officers are clear and able to respond.

This unfortunate incident serves as one example of times when police resources were tapped due to emergency calls and Occupy Portland events and street supervisors have to carefully manage police resources to ensure that officers are available to respond to active emergencies.

This case serves as an example of the challenges the Portland Police Bureau has faced during Occupy Portland events, and it will continue to work through staffing issues and how to best use resources to ensure public safety needs are met within Portland.

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