Police union says staffing levels ‘dangerously low’

New billboard campaign launched

A billboard about Portland police staffing levels, Oct. 8, 2015 (KOIN)
A billboard about Portland police staffing levels, Oct. 8, 2015 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — The head of the Portland Police Association is calling on city leaders to increase staffing levels for the Portland Police Bureau.

On Wednesday, Officer Daryl Turner said PPA acquired several billboards and launched its “Having Enough Police Matters” campaign. Turner said the push is to educate the public “about the dangerously low staffing levels in the Portland Police Bureau.”

According to Turner, there is an estimated $49 million surplus in the city’s general fund. He said the city should add more officers to its ranks so that officers are able to respond to calls for service, investigate crimes, address gun and gang issues, serve those impacted by livability issues because of homelessness, increase community policing and engagement.

Turner said that staffing levels at the bureau “are dwindling” as the city’s population grows.

“Officers are forced to do more with less, and the community pays the price,” according to press release provided by Turner. “In fact, the Police Bureau is around 700 hundred officers short of national staffing benchmarks.”

His statement goes on: “Inadequate staffing in the Police Bureau is hurting our communities and putting all of us at risk.”

PPA is now circulating an on-line petition directed at Mayor Charlie Hales and city council to increase police staffing levels.

According to the Portland Tribune, a spokesperson for the mayor said the bureau currently has 35 open sworn positions and 41 more sworn members are projected to leave this fiscal year through retirements and resignations.

On Thursday, Hales told KOIN 6 News that he is in “radical agreement with our police officers” that more cops are needed, but that it will take time and money. One of the solutions Hales offered is to bring back, “on a short term basis, some retired police officers who  are willing to come back to work for a while until we fill the ranks. Hales said he had a message to the officers who are on the streets working overtime shifts to fill the patrol gaps: “They need to know that I’m there with them. He added, “I support them and that I believe in them and I’m going to get them some help.”

The chief of police is out of town and unavailable for comment, a police spokesperson said.

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