PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mayor Ted Wheeler said he hopes to rehire 100 retired Portland Police Officers amid this record year for homicides.
Wheeler had several ideas to stem gun violence and said it’s his top priority. He talked about re-investing in Portland Police, with more accountability and oversight. He also said he wanted to see additional dollars directed to the bureau.
In a one-on-one interview with KOIN 6 News he said, “The overall strategy is the three R’s. It’s reform like the FIT. It’s about refocusing, we have a shortage of police.”
He said he wants to add more officers in the long term, but in the immediate future he wants to bring back 100 officers who recently left the bureau through the retire-rehire program. The retire-rehire program allows the Portland Police Bureau to bring back retired officers and employ them again.
Wheeler pointed out adding officers to the bureau is something he’s been pushing for a while now.
“Our city police bureau is critically understaffed,” the mayor said. “Chief Lovell believes we need 300 officers in the next three years to bring us back to where we need to be.”
Some commissioners have been vocal about not wanting to add officers in the past, but Wheeler said he now has the support of city council.
“It has been challenging and I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot going on. There are multiple crises unfolding in our city,” he said.
Community members have expressed they don’t feel the city government is working for them when it comes to gun violence.
“I want them to know we hear them, and it has taken longer than I hoped,” he said. “I had hoped I would have council support last summer, last spring. I didn’t have the support then, but I have the support now. We are going to move forward with re-doubled efforts.”
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said she doesn’t think officers should be preventative in their efforts. She thinks their role is just investigative.
The mayor thinks he has the necessary votes to hire additional officers.