PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland City Commissioners Carmen Rubio and Mingus Mapps both said they want more police on the streets, though they differ slightly on how that looks.
Earlier this year, the City Council voted to spend about $6 million on public safety but none of that money went to police.
Mapps specifically wants to see the Behavioral Health Unit staffing within PPB doubled. Those are the officers who respond to people having violent mental health episodes.
In an interview with KOIN 6 News, both said they hear the concerns about gun violence and the record number of homicides.
“Homicides are too high. There are too many people sleeping in tents. Graffiti mars almost every building,” Mapps said. “Obviously our police bureau is understaffed, and we have to address that as people are literally getting killed every week. Frankly, the folks getting killed are people of color and low income people. If you want to talk about equity issues, Portland has never been less equitable.”
But how to fix those problems has been the subject of an ongoing year-long debate among city leaders, especially for funding and staffing the Portland Police Bureau.
“There’s no doubt that right now we’re experiencing like, our police are not at capacity. We’ve had record retirements and people leaving the bureau. So, I am absolutely concerned getting our force getting back to capacity and filling those vacancies,” Rubio said. “Fully staffed is filling every vacancy we have right now. That, to me, is ‘at capacity.'”
“For a city our size,” Mapps said, “you’d expect us to have about 1200 police officers. As of today we’re around that 700 number. As the commissioner in charge of 911, I can tell you we literally don’t have enough cop cars out there to address” the number of 911 calls that come in every day.
In the immediate future, Mapps said he’s focused on keeping more officers from leaving PPB but he ideally wants to see more officers. He said he is still in the process of pricing out his proposals.
Rubio said she is going to learn more this week to determine whether she would support more money going to the bureau.
Both commissioners also brought up the needs for non-police response, such as Portland Street Response. With both in favor of increasing staffing and Mayor Ted Wheeler’s support for more officers, that is 3 of the 5 city commissioners in favor of the idea.