PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new report is shedding light on low morale within the Portland Police Bureau and how the public feels about the agency.
The independent study, which was initiated in spring 2021 amid the fallout from the 2020 protests, was first reported on by the Portland Mercury.
The report, which was initiated in spring 2021 amid the fallout from the 2020 protests, cited the low morale as being connected to a number of issues, including antagonisms toward local elected officials that do not seem to go away, the ongoing community perception the bureau is politically biased and issues with leadership perception.
“The repeated references to a ‘lack of support’ from City government seemed even more acute than frustrations with protesters — and have seemingly contributed to a self-perpetuating dynamic of distrust and resentment,” the report stated. “Such feelings are particularly focused against those in City government who are perceived to be ‘anti-police’ and therefore undermining to Bureau operations.”
Members of the bureau denied the allegations of being racially or politically biased in the report; however, the report went on to say critics “are unlikely to be assuaged” and that “studies showing collective disparate treatment of persons of color means that the Bureau’s way of performing public safety in Portland has impacts that are not color blind.”
The report went on to cite that to improve public perception, PPB needed to work on the agency’s community outreach methods along with information sharing.
The report also added there is “some justification” for why the public may be skeptical about PPB’s commitment to accountability, and that the law enforcement agency challenging a new and more empowered independent oversight board that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2020 “has lent itself to the reinforcement of perceptions that PPB is resistant to appropriate scrutiny, intractable in its dismissal of other perspectives, and reluctant to recognize or remediate officer wrongdoing.”
Meanwhile, the City of Portland and the Portland Police Association, the bureau’s union, announced details in the tentative agreement reached last week; however, the collective bargaining agreement did not include body cameras, which remains up for discussion. Body cameras have been recommended by federal officials after the U.S. Department of Justice found the Portland Police Bureau was not in compliance with a 2014 joint settlement agreement due to use of force during the 2020 protests.