PPB Restructure Meeting Planned with Chief Sizer and Commissioner Saltzman
An additional public forum for the Police Bureau budget and precinct restructuring plan has been added for next Monday, April 20th. Chief Sizer and Commissioner Saltzman will both attend the public forum.
Community Forum on Precinct Restructuring
Monday, April 20, 2009
6:30PM – 8:00PM
Cleveland High School (in the library)
3400 SE 26th Ave.
Portland, OR 97202
Bureau Advisory Committee Response to Proposed Budget Cuts
January 27, 2009
Doing a better job with less is an admirable accomplishment. The Bureau Advisory Committee (BAC) is very impressed with the Portland Police Bureau’s efforts to do just that. The emphasis on reducing commanders in order to increase patrol will enable the bureau to have more emergency response and neighborhood patrol. However, there is an area of concern for the BAC regarding this new configuration, specifically, the increase in command staff by creating three new captain positions and the elimination of six NRT positions. These proposals do not enhance community policing. While the boundaries might change for the precincts, the citizen population does not. A reduction in NRT officers does not serve the best interest of our neighborhoods and is a serious blow to community policing. An increase in upper management at a time of budget constraints does not make economic sense. Coupled with a decrease in NRT officers is alarming! We endorse the concept in the proposed “Three Precinct Configuration” as a means to provide more service in a time of budget constraints. In past BAC reports we have recommended moves towards precinct consolidation. This new version surpasses our previous recommendation with an increase in over all savings while attempting to maintain police presence in the affected neighborhoods and allows for an increase in sworn officers. Utilization of the proposed closed precincts for training and traffic not only saves money on leases, and improves accommodations for both those functions but keeps a police presence in both North and Southeast neighborhoods. Neighborhoods that have historically protested the closing of precincts should feel a sense of relief knowing that bureau members will continue to be in their neighborhoods for training purposes. Plainly stated, by eliminating the three new Captain positions and restating the six NRT positions will make the new configuration practical, efficient and a good use of taxpayers money.
The BAC is concerned in this atmosphere of dire economic turmoil that there will be a push for deeper cuts to the PPB. We strongly urge that if this becomes necessary, look towards revenue production versus service cuts. Before eliminating prioritized programs on the list, please consider these recommendations first. Year after year in the BAC has urged the bureau to recoup the expenses of special event overtime. Repeatedly, we have recommended special event organizers be required to pay the costs associated with a requested police presence. The BAC has also repeatedly requested an increase in alarm monitoring fees and fines. In addition to these suggestions for revenue we would like to add a new one, the PPB should recover the costs of investigating non-injury auto accidents. The rationale for this recommendation is simple; there is no crime being committed, no threat to our citizens. The investigation of a non-injury automobile accident is merely legwork for the insurance industry. The insurance industry should pay for the service.
In addition to revenue producing actions the BAC recommends the PPB actively reviews their entire command structure, not just the operations branch staffing, with the objective of optimizing supervisory positions. When the economic downturn hit corporate America the first course of action taken was to analyze middle management. The discovery of a heavy middle management sector led to restructuring and cost savings. The exact same cost savings approach used in the proposed three precinct configuration should be applied to all management positions. All Sergeant and Lieutenant positions should be analyzed with an eye towards efficiency. Keeping programs running and officers on the street should be the priority if the PPB is to maintain public safety at current levels.
The BAC urges City Council to adopt Option A.. The combined precinct restructure, reprogram and one-time restructure responsibly meets the 5.11% requested budget reduction. Public safety is one area of public service that cannot be compromised. This plan cuts dollars not public safety. Let us repeat, if more reductions become necessary, we strongly urge reviewing the ways to increase revenue sources and/or cost recovery over cuts that will adversely affect public safety. Finally, a continual search for efficiencies, such as the recommended optimization of supervisory positions should be undertaken immediately.