The long arm of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office will soon stretch a little bit farther, after the Fairview City Council voted to fold its police department into the larger law enforcement agency.
Fairview will fork over approximately $2 million to pay for the first year of coverage from sheriff's deputies once the agreement takes effect Tuesday, Aug. 1. Multnomah County must first approve the consolidation before that time.
The 10-year contract grants all 14 of Fairview's uniformed officers a new position at MCSO, with similar terms for two unsworn records specialists who handle administrative tasks.
"We know that some of the gangs are getting stronger. We need to have a more rounded service," Fairview Mayor Ted Tosterud said prior to the vote Wednesday, June 21, at City Hall.
"The troublemakers have come out here from Portland," chimed in Councilor Mike Weatherby. "The gentrification of Portland has allowed that."
Under the new contract, Fairview will have one officer on-duty at all times, with a second officer filling a 10-hour shift every day during peak hours, roughly between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. A desk sergeant, who offers supervision and advice from afar, also will be available all 24 hours of the day.
Operations will be based out of the Troutdale Community Police facility at 234 S.W. Kendall Ave. MCSO will hash out a separate lease agreement for Fairview's police headquarters, and will continue to staff the front counter at City Hall for walk-in service.
Back at the dais, Councilor Kathi Forsythe said the consolidation would help ensure the safety of the entire community.
"I have done a complete 180 on my perspective for this matter," she testified. "I think people will see very little change other than a positive result."
Councilor Lisa Barton Mullins said she felt left out from parts of the decision-making process. But government employees receive an annual cost of living increase, and Barton Mullins said the data indicates Fairview can't keep pace forever.
"In the next five years, there's really no way that Fairview can give the citizens the quality of service that they deserve and need," she noted.
Councilor Brian Cooper — hardly uncomfortable expressing a lone voice of dissent — was the only elected official to vote against the merger.
"I had two conditions that needed to be met before we willingly dismantled a community asset that we've spent millions of dollars building up," Cooper explained in a phone interview. "(They were) sustainability and service.
"To me, this decision was only kicking the can down the road for later councilors to have to mix with," Cooper continued.
It's unclear exactly how much Fairview will spend on police services in the long term, though Mayor Tosterud says the city will save about $193,000 through the next five years, compared with the cost of changing nothing.
A cost-projection chart prepared by MCSO lists $2.8 million as the price for law enforcement services during the fifth year of the contract.
The sheriff's office will pay roughly $200,000 for the city's nine-patrol car fleet, which consists of mostly Ford Explorers from 2014 or newer, plus several Crown Victorias purchased a decade ago. A new paint job will likely retain the Fairview city logo while also incorporating the MCSO brand.
City officials will be forbidden from providing "interviews or statements to the press" regarding major police matters without first meeting with the sheriff or his representative, the contract stipulates.
Violent crime is on the rise in Fairview, with reports of rapes, homicides and assaults up 167 percent since 2010, according to statistics provided to the Fairview City Council by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.
Property crimes — like auto theft, larceny and burglary — have jumped 35 percent in the same time period.
Overall, 24 violent crimes and 297 property crimes occurred in Fairview in 2016.