Mayor Hales aims to fill PPB officer shortage

Mayor Charlie Hales sat down for a wide-ranging interview with KOIN 6 News

PPB seal, file. (KOIN)
PPB seal, file. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Charlie Hales isn’t running for re-election, but he is determined to make a difference where he can while he’s still in office.

In a sit-down interview with KOIN 6 News, the mayor spoke about a variety of topics on his to-do list. Hales sees filling the shortage of Portland police officers as one place he can get things done.

For years, the PPB has had a shortage of officers, once about 100 officers short. Those shifts have been covered by paying millions in overtime, by taking police off specialized duties like drugs, vice and gang enforcement to do street patrol.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Dec. 29, 2015 (KOIN)
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, Dec. 29, 2015 (KOIN)

The shortage of police officers is down to about 40, and the city already has their salaries in the budget. They just need to fill the positions.

The mayor told KOIN 6 News he wants to give current police officers a finders fee for new recruits and pay new recruits who make it through the process a bonus.

“We’re thinking about $7500 as a signing bonus,” Hales said. “I think that’s what Eugene is doing. We want to match that at least. We haven’t figured out the exact amount of the bounty that we’ll pay to officers for signing another colleague as a successful recruit, but it ought to be about $1000, enough to get your attention.”

Currently, a starting officer is paid $49,000 and after 6 months the pay bumps up to $60,000. Hales wants to wipe out that waiting period.

“We want to increase the pool of people applying to be a police officer because there’s a long process of psychiatric evaluation, physical evaluation and testing, then you have to go through the academy,” the mayor said. “So there’s always  a big drop off.”

Hales said he plans to propose his incentive program soon and wants to start the signing bonus funding at a modest amount — possibly $100,000 as the initial pot of money.

KOIN 6 News will share more of our sit-down interview with Mayor Charlie Hales on Wednesday

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