PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell said he doesn’t have the exact numbers but “anecdotally” the bureau responding to only high priority calls “is happening more now than it did in the past when we had more resources.”

Lovell said police have to move to these high priority only calls more often, especially on weekends.

There are 110 officers per precinct. “Most shifts we are under minimum staffing to just take patrol calls,” he said. “A lot of times on weekends we end up on life safety calls only and the other calls end up holding.”

This past weekend, with shootings, homicides and fatal crashes put a strain on PPB’s resources. The chief said they just don’t have enough officers for the calls they’re getting.

Right now, PPB has a total of 772 sworn members. “The ideal number for a city our size is 1100 sworn,” he told KOIN 6 News on Tuesday.

The staffing issues won’t be fixed anytime soon as more officers could retire this summer.

“I know we have about 90 who are eligible this calendar year,” he said. “I know the majority are in July.”

But he said they hope to hire more officers soon through recruitment and the retire-rehire program. The bureau just hired 8 background investigators to help speed the process.

They also just expanded their homicide unit to deal with the record-setting rise in homicides. There are now 3 teams of 8 detectives. But in order to do that, Lovell said, they had to shift detectives and sergeants from other units. That included re-assigning everyone from the Cold Case Unit to the homicide division, at least temporarily.

“These cold cases are very important to us. We know the importance they have to families,” the chief said. “We’re not going away from that work, it’s just a temporary shift of resources to help with current rise in homicides.”

He also said the Focused Intervention Team (FIT) is moving from 4 days of operation to 5 days.

The reasons for the short staffing at PPB are familiar.

“We’ve had the perfect storm of things,” Lovell said. “Not only do we have a shrinking police department, we have the pandemic, a rise in shootings, a big cut to the budget in 2020, a loss of many officers between August of 2020 and now.”