PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Portland Police Bureau hired 20 community police officers on Thursday for the agency’s “first measurable staffing increase in years.”

According to PPB, this brings a total of 793 sworn members to the agency, 537 of who are officers.

Before the additional hires, PPB said it had its lowest number of sworn members since 1989 at 773 members. The bureau also noted that in May 2022, the agency had the lowest number of officers with 509 out of 609 positions authorized.

“This is truly a great day for the Portland Police Bureau,” Chief Chuck Lovell said. “It’s a challenging time right now to work in law enforcement and I’m gratified to see so many people stepping forward to take on that challenge. I’m excited to welcome them into the PPB family.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler says these types of numbers have been hard to come by recently.

“I truly believe that this group, and the growing numbers of people who want to serve the community as police officers, heralds a new and hopeful chapter in our city’s future,” Wheeler said.

In a video posted Thursday on Twitter, Mayor Wheeler added that within the group, the police department is welcoming “people from diverse backgrounds and life experiences, including decorated veterans immigrants, small business owners, teachers, people with advanced degrees ranging from finance to psychology, a third generation Portland police officer and even two former professional athletes.”

Additionally, the agency hired three Public Support Specialists who are non-sworn, unarmed and serve alongside sworn officers. This brings PPB to 23 PS3s out of the authorized 70 they can employ.

PPB explained the training process for new hires takes 18 months and includes training at Basic Police Academy in Salem, Portland Advanced Academy and field training. PPB said there are 87 officers currently training.

The bureau also hired five non-sworn staff including records specialists, a victim advocate and a police desk clerk.

PPB said it are continuing to hire lateral and entry-level community police officers with salaries ranging from $75,000 to $107,000 along with pay incentives.