Kotek offers state police to help Portland stop drunk driving, street racing

Published: Apr. 13, 2023 at 5:49 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Portland has seen a number of street takeovers in the last few years, in which cars block roads or even bridges and drive dangerously while crowds of people watch.

In at least one street takeover at Southeast Seventh Avenue and Morrison, a witness says it took Portland police half an hour to get there.

Meanwhile, street racing has also claimed the lives of multiple Portlanders.

SEE ALSO: 1 arrested after standoff in SE Portland

Now, in a letter sent in February but just released this week, Governor Tina Kotek offered Oregon State Police troopers to help Portland police address concerns around racing, street takeovers and drunk driving enforcement on a monthly basis.

She says Mayor Ted Wheeler initially asked for regular patrols on Portland highways, but due to staffing, she said that’s not possible.

This proposal is something Portland Police Association president Aaron Schmautz says is encouraging.

“To do the missions you have to have a lot of things in place,” Schmautz said. “There’s a lot of frustration around the inability to respond to those things because they’re very dangerous. They manifest themselves in really large - we’ve had shootings, fatal car crashes. … I think officers in Portland in particular are thankful for any help we can get.”

SEE ALSO: Burglary suspect rescued from blackberry brambles in N Portland; 2 arrested

In a statement, Kotek’s office says she’s pleased with the collaboration between the two agencies to address street racing and drunk driving.

“The mayor and the governor have also agreed to ask the legislature for additional dollars to clear the law enforcement training backlog over the next two years, which could require as much as $6.8 million, and add additional classes and trainers on top of the governor’s budget,” Kotek’s office said. Wheeler said in a statement that he appreciates Kotek’s efforts to improve public safety.

“The partnership between Oregon State Police and Portland Police Bureau to increase traffic, DUII enforcement, and street takeovers will save lives,” Wheeler said. For now, it is too early for Portland police to say what the partnership will look like, but they say they’re looking forward to it.