PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Police Bureau will use $1 million from its budget to begin paying officers double their standard rate of pay to work overtime in hopes of better filling vacant patrol shifts amid the bureau’s ongoing staffing crisis.
The Portland City Council unanimously approved the Portland Police Bureau’s request during its Aug. 16 meeting. The approved emergency ordinance modifies the city’s collective bargaining agreement with the Portland Police Association, changing the established overtime rate from time and a half to double time.
Deputy Chief Mike Frome told city commissioners at Wednesday’s meeting that the rates will serve as a pilot project to determine if better pay helps motivate its officers to put in extra hours during the staffing shortage.
“We will find $1 million in the Police Bureau’s budget to fund this,” Frome said. “I view it as a pilot to see what is the appetite of our members to come in and work overtime if there is this enhanced payment.”
During the meeting, Frome presented the city council a recent example of how poorly staffed some patrol shifts can be. Frome said that on Aug. 12, PPB’s East Precinct had seven officers available to work an afternoon shift that typically requires 19.
“We had 12 people not working,” he said. “We had seven people for the entire shift.”
Frome said that, based on observed shift numbers, the time and a half-pay wasn’t motivating enough officers to work overtime.
“Clearly patrol overtime is not incentivized,” he said.
Commissioner Dan Ryan expressed concern at the meeting that officers will become accustomed to the temporary overtime increase and demand the rate becomes permanent. However, Frome said that officers are being told that the increase is a temporary and that the best solution to PPB’s problem is a fully staffed police force.
“The real way to fix this is to get enough people in place to be handling the calls,” Frome said.