PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — There are now 120 sworn officer vacancies in the Portland Police Bureau. At a City Council meeting Tuesday, Chief Danielle Outlaw shared some of the challenges they face in hiring new people and filling those positions.
The assistant chief told the City Commissioners that out of more than 60 people who applied for public safety specialist jobs, only 3 passed background checks. The biggest reasons for their disqualification is past drug use or dishonesty in their application.
Police applicants who have used marijuana in the past year don’t pass a PPB background check because marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
With so many vacancies in the PPB, some City Council members wondered if there should be fewer supervisors and more patrol officers.
“Is there a way to reconfigure your workforce to have more officers on the street rather than in supervisor or specialty units?” Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty asked.
“I’m sure there is a way to flatten the hierarchy,” Outlaw said. “But the issue with that is to maintain accountability and chain of command.”
Hardesty and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly also both told the chief they are not OK with her plan to cut public self-defense training classes as a move toward the 1% budget cut requested by Mayor Ted Wheeler.
This is part of the city’s budget process to get a budget in place by July 1. A public forum is scheduled at the Irco Building on Northeast Glisan beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.