Portland cops plead poverty

Crazy news from the Portland police the other day: They're running out of money.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell plans early next year to reassign traffic and canine officers and some narcotics investigators to the Patrol Division to fill shifts, reduce overtime and improve response times as the bureau faces an approximately $2 million deficit this fiscal year....

On Jan. 1, seven officers from the former Transit Division, which was eliminated this year in budget cuts, will be moved to patrol duties.

On Feb. 4, 49 Rapid Response Team officers, 20 traffic officers, nine canine officers, two public information officers, three community engagement officers and one Behavioral Health Unit officer will be reassigned to patrol, answering calls for service.

The moves won’t affect one supervisor and four traffic fatal crash investigators, who will remain assigned to the bureau’s Major Crash Team, but they leave no other officers dedicated solely to traffic patrols, said Sgt. Kevin Allen, a bureau spokesman. Six officers will remain in the Narcotics Enforcement Unit for now, but could be folded into other investigative units in the future, Allen said. 

The tight budgetary situation became apparent the other day when the cops let the city's anarchist brigade take over two blocks of Mississippi Avenue, in part because to stop them would have involved too much overtime. Now we see that the problem is infecting the bureau across the board, and promises to be permanent.

Of course, crying about a lack of money is a tactic right out of the police public relations playbook. Strict budget constraints help a number of the cops' political initiatives:

  • It might slow down the movement to "defund the police," by forcing the public to choose between the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement and basic public safety.
  • It provides an excuse for the police bureau's utter ineffectiveness in dealing with protests, riots, and gun violence.
  • It may influence the looming renegotiation of the police union contract, because with no money to put on the table, all the city can offer the union (or the arbitrator) are concessions on issues like accountability, transparency, and discipline for wayward officers.

Whatever the budget situation might mean, policing in Portland seems to be moving backward, not forward. When you need a SWAT team, you're going to get a public information officer, in about an hour. Good luck.


  1. PPD a bunch of overpaid whiners that exploit disability benefits.The 2006 pension reforms did not go far enough.


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