Families left frustrated as Portland police staffing issues impact overdose investigations
PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - With cases of overdose deaths involving fentanyl stacking up around the Portland area, families of those who died are finding frustration instead of closure.
MJ Jackson, who’s mother died of a fentanyl overdose in June of 2022, said she’s been waiting months for any movement in her case, with the Portland Police Bureau’s narcotics team slow to respond.
“He says my mom’s case cannot be a priority to him right now. He’s focusing on juvenile. He doesn’t have enough cops to even look at my mom’s case,” said Jackson.
According to the Portland Police Bureau, there were 156 overdose deaths linked to fentanyl in 2022, with more expected this year once the final numbers are tallied. The bureau has also publicly stated that is severely short-staffed, with specialty units like the narcotics division, trimmed down to get more officers on patrol to answer calls for service.
“I want justice, and I told the narcotics officer, you won’t stop hearing from me. My mother won’t die in vain,” said Jackson.
A spokesperson for the police bureau said the bureau’s lone narcotics detective is currently working on eight open overdose death cases, and that more than half of the officers assigned to the Narcotics and Organized Crime Unit were transferred to patrol in 2021 to meet staffing needs.
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