PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After some of the lowest staffing numbers in decades, the Portland Police Bureau is bouncing back.

PPB Recruiter Brad Yakots said the bureau hopes it will meet its authorized staffing number by the year, and its current hiring pace is close to the best it’s ever been. PPB needs to hire 75 more police officers to meet that number.

Yakots said the initial decrease goes back to the civil unrest that occurred in 2020 and the “big social experiment of defunding and taking away money from the police” in Portland.

In 2020, the Portland City Council voted to reduce PPB’s authorized force to 882 officers – a number that includes patrol officers all the way up to the chief.

“Not only were people leaving and we weren’t retaining them. …The reason why they weren’t applying is because we weren’t hiring,” Yakots said.

Yakots said almost all cities with comparable populations have more police officers than Portland.

“No one in the bureau believes that 882 is the right number,” Yakots said. “We need to be a lot higher, but there’s only so much the personnel division can do. But we’re tasked with getting to that number and that’s what we’re striving for.”

Getting 75 more officers out on the street won’t happen anytime soon regardless of how many people apply for the job.

A new Portland Police Bureau officer receives her badge (PPB, file)
A new Portland Police Bureau officer receives her badge (PPB, file)

It takes 3-5 months to complete an applicant’s background check. If they’re hired, they still have to go to the State Academy, and as KOIN 6 News previously reported, there’s a six-month backlog at the Academy.

“What we’ve requested is going into next biennium a total of 20 basic police classes to start with so that we can try to address the bubble or the backlog, I guess you would call it, moving forward,” he said.