PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After struggling to find new recruits, Portland police now have more than 80 new officers, but 50 of them are held up from getting to the streets because there is no room at the state training academy in Salem.
Under state law, the recruits are supposed to get training at least three months after hire, which isn’t happening due to capacity issues, first reported by The Oregonian. The state police academy has 40 students in a class and rotates four classes for a total of 160 students going through training.
The academy did get more state funding a few months ago and added more classes, but it’s not enough.
Law enforcement leaders tell KOIN 6 News with the rising crime rate and officer retirements, hiring is not going to level off any time soon.
“Under statute, a student is supposed to be attending academy within 90 days of hire. With our current backlog, we have students who are almost double that,” said Brian Henson, the acting director of the public safety and standards training department.
Meanwhile, the dozens of new officers hired in Portland waiting months for training are working desk jobs, such as in the records department. After state training, there’s local training, which is a total of 18 months.
The backup at the academy ultimately means longer wait times for an officer to respond to a 911 call — the average wait time in Portland has been more than 15 minutes in recent months.