Officers report low morale at Portland Police Bureau; mayor defe - KPTV - FOX 12

Officers report low morale at Portland Police Bureau; mayor defends chief

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A Portland Police Association survey found that 96 percent of officers and staff who responded rated the overall morale in the Portland Police Bureau as poor or below average.

In a press release Tuesday, Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner described the bureau as "broken."

In a survey of the association's 885 members, 82 percent responded. Of those, 97 percent agreed or strongly agreed that low staffing levels are negatively impacting morale at the Portland Police Bureau.

The survey results also illustrated a lack of confidence in Chief Larry O'Dea and his policies, as well as a belief that the bureau does not reward strong job performance, according to the police association.

Turner expressed frustration with the spike in gang violence and unsolved violent crimes in Portland.

"Chief O'Dea is either unable or unwilling to work with the PPA to implement meaningful short and long-term solutions to this problem. Instead, the Chief continues to rely on failed strategies like sector policing and the highly unpopular and ineffective five-shift configuration and outside rotational support policies for patrol," the Portland Police Association release states.

Mayor Charlie Hales issued a release in response to the one from the police association, saying, "I picked Larry O'Dea as chief of police because he's a change agent. When you make change, you make waves."

Hales highlighted changes in training that focus on de-escalation, particularly in responding to people in a mental health crisis, increased and prioritized walking beats, the hiring of the bureau's first equity manager and preparation for body camera implementation this year.

Hales described this as a "transformational era" with a need for someone who will "advocate for change."

"Chief O’Dea has my full confidence and support as he continues that work. I expect there will be occasional controversy and resistance as he re-shapes the Portland Police Bureau to meet our community’s expectations," Hales said in a statement.

The Portland Police Association, however, called morale "dangerously low."

"The results of this survey should serve as an eye-opener to our Police Bureau leaders and City Council. We all must act fast to fix this problem," Turner said in the release.

O'Dea was sworn in as police chief in January 2015, taking over for the retired Mike Reese.

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