PPB staffing issues affect Rose Festival

An officer shortage could have a ripple effect on other events

5-19-13-rock 'n' roll marathon
Thousands of runners filled downtown Portland streets Sunday morning for the second Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon that kicked off the annual Portland Rose Festival. (KOIN 6 News, Robert Dingwall)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — This year’s Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon has been canceled. It is one of the biggest events for the city of Portland and has served as the kick off event for the Rose Festival.

Rose Festival organizers are trying to stage their own running event but they are having trouble because Portland Police can’t help them with safety.

The issue is a staffing shortage among officers at the bureau.

Sergeant Pete Simpson said because staffing levels are so thin, it can’t provide patrol officers for any new events for 2016. That includes marches, parades, running and other athletic events.

“We cannot support that. It’s really a staffing issue. We don’t have bodies,” Simpson told KOIN 6 News.

Simpson said it takes anywhere from 50 to 80 officers to shut down streets, block intersections and maintain crowd control during running events.

As for the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon, it may return to the Rose City.

“We are still very committed to supporting runners from throughout the Pacific Northwest,” says Dan Cruz, a spokesperson for the running series.

Cruz says there were numerous reasons they decided to pull out of Portland.

“It wasn’t just one thing and it was certainly a very, very difficult decision that we debated and deliberated on for many months.”

Cruz agrees with Simpson that pulling off a large running event is a massive undertaking.

“It’s an all hands on deck process any time you’re shutting down 13.1 miles of road.”

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