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Ore. union launches ‘Having Enough Police Matters’ campaign

Portland Police Association started a campaign intended to put pressure on lawmakers to find funding for hiring officers

By Maxine Bernstein
The Oregonian

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Police Association is circulating a petition and advertising on billboards to urge City Hall to hire more Portland cops.

The “Having Enough Police Matters’’ campaign is intended to pressure City Hall to provide more funding to the Portland Police Bureau to hire more rank-and-file officers.

“Inadequate staffing in the Police Bureau is hurting our communities and putting all of us at risk,’' wrote Officer Daryl Turner, association president in a prepared release. “Nothing is more basic to the livability of a city than public safety. We need City Council to take immediate action to fix this critical staffing shortage. Our city and our officers deserve better.’'

The campaign comes as the bureau’s gang enforcement team is running to keep up with a spike in gang-related shooting and assaults. A bludgeoning death in North Portland Monday night marked the fourth homicide in four days, sixth in over a week.

The bureau’s authorized patrol strength is about 400 officers. Its authorized sworn officers is 947. Currently, there are 34 vacancies, bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said.

The mayor’s budget this year added 17 new positions to the Police Bureau. Of those, five were sworn officer positions. The chief recently pulled six officers from neighborhood response teams and street crime units to bolster the gang enforcement team.

Earlier this summer, Turner called on the mayor instead to boost the bureau’s force by using part of the city’s surplus to hire 100 more officers over the next 18 months.

In May, for example, 21 bureau members retired, including 17 rank-and-file officers, Turner said.

A survey released in May by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that the Portland bureau has fewer officers per city resident and fewer minority officers than most other law enforcement agencies its size. The city had 16 sworn officers per 10,000 residents in 2012, according to the survey. Forty-four other major police departments had higher ratios.

Portland trailed Seattle’s 20 officers per 10,000 residents and San Francisco’s 26 per 10,000.

Consultants hired by the city of Portland to do a staffing study in April recommended shifting more investigators to the three patrol precincts.

It found there are 570 sworn officer positions financed for the bureau’s three precincts. Due to vacations and vacancies, the precincts at the end of last summer were short 7.8 percent of their authorized staffing numbers, the study found. The consultants found this consistent with other law enforcement agencies.

Consultants, though, highlighted concerns about officers’ use of leave.

Copyright 2015 The Oregonian