PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Despite the protests that have disrupted Portland City Council several times in the past few weeks, the new collective bargaining agreement with the Portland Police Association was approved Wednesday.
City Council voted 3 to 1 in favor of the new agreement. City Commissioner Nick Fish told KOIN he, Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Amanda Fritz voted yes, while Steve Novic voted no due to budget concerns.
One of Fish’s primary arguments that this contract was right for Portland was that it will address the staffing issue within the Portland Police Bureau that some have called a crisis.
“What I have to balance is the current needs of our system and what I think is my duty to the people of Portland, against the sort of speculative idea that in 2 years we could get a better contract,” Fish told KOIN. “For me and for Commissioner Fritz, it came down to we’ve got a crisis now and we need to address it and I didn’t think it was appropriate and kick the can down the road.”
The contract aims to raise salaries to make PPB more competitive with other jurisdictions, eliminate a controversial “48-hour rule” for officer involved shooting investigations, eliminate grievances against the city that could impede reform efforts and commit to creating new rules about body camera use.
For weeks protesters and members of the group Don’t Shoot PDX have protested and aired their grievances with the contract. Among their concerns are the lack of community involvement in drawing it up, wanting to wait for Mayor-Elect Ted Wheeler to sign it and the policy on police body cameras.
Fish said community input has and will always be an important part of all city issues. The Mayor’s office and Fish also emphasized that the body camera policy itself isn’t part of this process.
“The new mayor, when he comes in, will have the chance to put his stamp on the policies relating to body cameras,” Fish said. “He will have a big voice in that.”
He also said waiting to approve the contract when Wheeler takes office in January would not be in the public’s best interest.
Fish said he respects the protesters rights and their position on the issues but he feels it crosses a line when the activity disrupts government work and public transportation.
“I respect the concerns that have been raise by some in our community but I thought it was absolutely imperative that we act to address the crisis in staffing our police bureau,” Fish said.