Police union: PPB crippled by staffing shortages

Crime

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Someone who is assaulted in Portland only has a 3.5% chance of an investigation, according to a letter from the president of the Portland Police Association. 

Officer Daryl Turner wrote that detectives and investigators are “continuously crippled by catastrophic staffing shortages” and working at “a torrid pace” but unable to keep up with their caseloads.

“If there is no support from City Hall to increase the Portland Police Bureau’s authorized staffing levels the City suffers, PPB suffers, and, most of all, the tax paying residents of Portland suffer,” Turner wrote. 

Earlier this week, KOIN 6 News reported that homicide detectives were tasked with investigating a stabbing in Old Town that did not involve life-threatening injuries. Law enforcement officials said the homicide detectives were asked to step in because assault detectives had taken on multiple cases within a 48 hour period.  

Assault detectives investigated the stabbing of a 17-year-old in NE Portland on Feb. 8. A suspect, Carlos Nampula-Cruz, was arrested and interviewed by detectives. 

In Portland last year, the number of reported person and property crimes increased 7%, reported assault offenses went from 7,525 in 2016 to 8,042 in 2017 and 282 assaults were assigned to the 5 detectives in the Portland Police Bureau’s Assault Detail for investigation and follow up.

KOIN 6 News reached out to the PPB for comment from Police Chief Danielle Outlaw. A spokesperson said Outlaw wouldn’t comment yet as the information released by the police union needed to be reviewed before a comment could be issued. 

However, Outlaw released a statement Tuesday saying,

The Police Bureau has been challenged by our staffing numbers for some time as we continue to recruit and hire officers. We also are working with City Council on specifics regarding the number of officers the Police Bureau should have as part of our authorized strength. In the end, we are all on the same page with the Portland Police Association regarding our desire for more officers on the street and more detectives investigating crimes.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was unable to comment until the data from PPA was reviewed by the police bureau, his spokesperson Michael Cox said. 

“The Mayor is committed to providing the Police Bureau with the staffing resources they need to keep Portlanders safe.That includes moving to a full community policing model that get more officers out of their cars and into the community. Community policing is a proven best practice that reduces crime and increases trust in law enforcement. There are currently fewer officers today than there were during Bud Clark’s administration. The Mayor will address this issue as part of his recommended budget later this spring” — Michael Cox

“At the current authorized sworn staffing level, if you are assaulted and it causes serious bodily injury that could lead to death, then your case goes to detectives,” according to Turner’s email to union members. “If not [seriously injured] your case gets sent to the understaffed precincts where patrol officers to follow up on the case.”

In the bureau’s recent 2018-2019 budget request, Outlaw and Wheeler asked for 93 additional sworn positions. 

“We support this first step towards addressing the systemic inadequate staffing issue,” Turner wrote in his email.

Click here for information about joining the Portland Police Bureau. 

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