Portland Police department finally sees its paycut

The Portland Police Bureau now has the “lowest number of sworn employees” in more than 25 years, due to the department reassigning certain personnel as a way to decrease overtime costs. On Thursday, Portland police reassigned sergeants and officers from three precincts “in an effort to reduce overtime costs” –  just one day after an Oregonian/Oregon Live report detailing how Police Chief Chuck Lovell has asked city commissioners to decrease department budget cuts to just 1% so they can hire more personnel.

“Due to the fact that the bureau has its lowest number of sworn employees in over 25 years with 842 members. and because of enormous costs associated with events of 2020, the Bureau took this step to save money,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a Thursday press release regarding the reorganization. In a recently submitted budget proposal, which was shared online by The Oregonian, Lovell said the Portland Police “anticipates it will have over 100 vacant positions,” with 73 open sworn positions and the remainder being non sworn.

He asked Portland City Commissioners to consider slashing the PPB budget by 1%, or by $3.4 million, instead of the 5% that Mayor Ted Wheeler had proposed to the department, 

according to the report. The new budget will take effect in July.

If city commissioners don’t approve his request, Lovell said PPB would be “unable to afford hiring into any of these 100+ vacant positions for the entirety of the year, and likely forever unless other ongoing funding can be secured to cover position costs.”

The Portland Police Bureau’s budget was $248.3 million at the beginning of the 2020-2021 fiscal year, city records show. For months, Portland saw protests and, at times, riots from demonstrators calling for police to be defunded or for the end of racism in the system and police brutality.Jim Middaugh, Wheeler’s spokesperson, told Fox News on Thursday that the mayor has received proposed budgets from every bureau in the City of Portland. 

 “This is an early step in the Mayor’s work to create a proposed citywide budget for City Council consideration,” he said in an emailed statement. “Given the virus-caused recession, the Mayor expects his next budget likely will create difficult choices as he and his colleagues address increasing costs and declining revenues.”