PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell addressed an array of topics during a press conference on Wednesday.
Lovell said staffing levels in the bureau are a top concern, explaining that there are currently 98 vacancies. Six more officers are about to retire, and 88 will be eligible to retire next year. He said these challenges “put further pressure on staffing.”
“There has been a lot asked of the men and women of the police bureau,” Lovell said.
PPB currently has 818 sworn members and 563 officers.
“We’re probably averaging 4-5 people per month leaving,” Lovell said. “It’s definitely a concern for us.”
Lovell said it’s a long process to hire new officers. New hires cannot start working immediately due to training and probation periods.
The City Council unanimously approved a multi-part, nearly $6 million package to reduce gun violence in Portland on Wednesday. It takes effective immediately.
The package is in response to the surge in shootings and killings that began in the middle of last year. It is intended to create a collaborative response to the increase in violence involving multiple jurisdictions and organizations in the Portland area. It declares gun violence is more of a public health crisis than a law enforcement issue.
Lovell expressed his support for the package during the press conference.
So far this year, there have been 284 shooting calls. 91 people have been injured. There have been 25 homicides, with 18 deaths from shootings.
He also talked about park rangers receiving funding to fight gun violence and said they can be a good resource.
“I have heard from a few of them and their stance is they are not police,” Lovell said “They are not there to play the role of police in the parks. They’re there to play the role of a deterrent.”