Pandemic, budget cuts slow PPB recruitment
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Before the COVID-19 pandemic and before City Council slashed the Portland Police Department’s budget in June 2020, Sergeant Trevor Tyler said if you complete an application to become a police officer from Portland, it would take anywhere from a year and a half to more than two years before receiving full training.
Now, the application process alone can take that long. KOIN 6 News discovered that one reason is that the office does not have enough substantive investigators.
“We lost several in 2020 when no one really knew what the forecast for hiring more officers would look like. Several of these investigators have been fired, ”Tyler said.
However, once an officer is officially hired by the office, places are not always immediately available at the academy.
“If I hire a body today, I won’t be able to get that person to the academy until April,” Tyler said.
This means that it could be five months before a new officer joins the academy.
Tyler explained it’s because “there’s no room for them in the academy because of the way COVID shut things down.”
Since COVID, the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training, the state agency that runs the police academy, has reduced class capacity to 40 officers.
“Every agency in the state of Oregon, Coos Bay, Beaverton, Hillsboro, any agency that wants to have a certified police officer is going to send them to Salem for 16 weeks – and all of our agencies are trying to compete for those 40 open places.” , Tyler said.
Mayor Ted Wheeler has said he supports the rehiring of 25 retired police officers. Tyler said retirees have shown interest but also apprehension – they want to know what they’re getting into before they commit.
“We have had situations where people want to apply to us, but their references refuse to send the reference because they are afraid their friends are officers from the City of Portland,” Tyler noted.
“Not only do we have people who are willing to do it, but the people who care about these people don’t want to be part of the process because they have concerns and we have to change that narrative,” Tyler said.