Police union president says shortage of officers makes Portland less safe

Image: KPTV

Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner describes a typical shift for police officers these days as having too many calls and not enough officers to go around.

“They get frustrated when they go to a call and they can’t spend the time they need to spend because they have another priority call waiting. And then another priority call waiting," Turner said.

Not only does the staffing shortage make the city less safe, Turner said it emboldens criminals.“It makes it more dangerous for the officers, number one, because now we have somebody who’s committing crimes and is getting a little more desperate maybe, as police get closer to them,” said Turner.According to bureau statistics, person and property crimes were up 7 percent in 2017. Out of 8,042 assaults, only 282 of them were assigned to detectives.

The Portland Police Bureau has 300 fewer officers than it did 30 years ago. Mayor Ted Wheeler said that has to change. “We have a budget process coming up and I intend to make a case to my colleagues that we need more officers on the street," Wheeler said. Wheeler wants to move the bureau toward more community policing with officers out of their cars, engaging in a more proactive approach. But he and new police Chief Danielle Outlaw are also asking for 93 new positions to be included in the upcoming budget.

Wheeler knows it’s a big ask.“There’s a long list of ugly, potential reductions,” said Wheeler. “None of them are easy. People always say, trim the fat. Well, there’s not a lot of fat to be trimmed here. What we’re talking about is programs and services that people want and expect.”Turner says the union wants 100 officers added every year for the next three years, but 93 is a good start. “Portlanders need to be safe,” Turner said. “They need to feel safe and they need to feel that their cases get fully investigated.”The Portland City Council will vote on a new, 2-year budget some time in late spring.

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