PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In a blistering release, the head of the Portland Police Association said the main reason the bureau is shorthanded is because of “the intense anti-police sentiment in our City that City Council seems to share.”
Daryl Turner unloaded in the Monday release titled “Recruitment And Retention: Our Crisis in the Portland Police Bureau.”
At a City Council meeting last week, PPB Chief Danielle Outlaw testified to the City Council about the shortages in the bureau. Of 60 recent applicants to become public safety specialists, only 3 passed background checks, mostly for past drug use or dishonesty in their application.
Turner said other applicants would rather work elsewhere for the same or better pay than
“working under a microscope in a highly politicized city where police officers are vilified. This notion, of course, seemed to go right over the Commissioners’ heads.”
Mayor Ted Wheeler requested a 1% budget cut at PPB as the city works toward getting a budget in place by July 1.
The Portland Police Bureau has been shortstaffed for years. There are now 120 sworn officer vacancies at PPB.
Turner said in his release the shortages are directly related to one core issue: “the intense anti-police sentiment in our City that City Council seems to share. The result of that problem is that policing in Portland is hideously unattractive, discouraging good applicants from applying and prompting our officers to leave or retire as soon as they’re able.”
The union president said “false narratives, knee jerk political reactions” and personal/political agendas have “created a hostile work environment” that makes it “impossible” to effectively do police work in Portland.
He also called on city officials “prioritize basic city services,” including having enough police officers on the streets to keep the city safe.
When Turner spoke with KOIN 6 News he mentioned Mayor Wheeler criticizing texts between PPB Lt. Jeff Niiya and Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson before getting more information.
“I think a lot of our officers feel like it is a hostile work environment, that whatever they do they are going to be scrutinized in a negative way, not a positive way,” Turner said. “It shows in our recruiting, our retention, it shows in the job we are able to do out there every day.”
Several commissioners did not respond to a request for comment from KOIN 6 News. But Wheeler, who was in a budget meeting Monday, issued a statement. In part, Wheeler said:
“I made it a priority to hear their concerns face-to-face by attending internal listening sessions after the Lt. Niiya texts. Their feedback about my response to those texts were frank, vulnerable and necessary for me to hear. While as police commissioner I will continue to hold the bureau to the highest possible standard, I will also do everything in my power to support them.”