As I sit down to write this article about the need for more Tigard police officers and the need for your "yes" vote on Measure 34-295, I immediately think back to the beginning of my career with the Tigard Police Department 14 years ago in 2006.
I see how the world around us has and is changing, and the way that we as police have to change and adapt to it. I think of how many more people we deal with that are in crisis and how our population has grown, yet the officers we have to deal with this population has not.
I remember 14 years ago, an average day was going to numerous property calls, such as thefts and graffiti and an occasional person crime, such as an assault. We got good and quick at investigating these calls, because even though certain aspects of each call may be slightly different, the basics were the same.
Fast-forward to today, and the type of calls we respond to often involve individuals in crisis. When dealing with individuals in crisis, the time spent on the call, as well as the resources, such as officers needed to deal with the call, increases.
With the passage of Measure 34-295, our officers will all receive advanced training in crisis intervention and de-escalation, meaning officers are better trained and prepared to deal with individuals in crisis.
In the time I have served the city of Tigard, we have not seen an increase in patrol staffing; at the same time, we have seen the growth of the city and an increase in the complex time-consuming calls for service.
Day shift has a minimum staffing of three patrol officers and a supervisor, swing shift has four officers and a supervisors, and graves have three officers and a supervisor, except for Friday and Saturdays, in which it increases to four and a supervisor.
This staffing does not allow us to have an officer in each of our five districts, causing officers to cover multiple districts and reduces response times. At times, we have to respond to a high-priority call without the number of officers that we would like to have to respond in a safe manner. If we receive more than one high-priority call for service, our resources are spread even thinner, or we have to hold a high-priority call for service until we can clear the first call. None of us at Tigard Police want to hold a high-priority call, but at times staffing may cause that to happen so that we can respond with the attention and safety it requires.
The passage of Measure 34-295 would allow the hiring of additional patrol officers to bring our shift minimum levels up, meaning faster response times as well as an ability to respond to multiple high-priority calls.
Staffing levels have also affected the Tigard Police Department's ability to staff school resource officers. Just a couple of years ago, we had four full-time officers assigned to the Tigard schools. With the decrease in staffing, two of those positions were reassigned to patrol. With unpredictable behaviors as well as the need for an increase in security, our schools need a resource officer available at all times.
The passage of Measure 34-295 would allow the Tigard Police Department to place another officer in the schools to increase school safety and outreach to the children of Tigard.
With our current times where the fear of COVID and stay-at-home orders are in place, the men and women of the Tigard Police Department are hard at work. I am proud of everyone employed by Tigard Police Department. I am beyond proud of each member of the Tigard Police Officers Association and am blessed to serve as the association president. We are dedicated to the city of Tigard and the citizens we serve each day.
We as an association urge you to vote yes on Measure 34-295 to help increase the number of officers serving the city of Tigard, as well as to provide additional training.
Nick Nunn is an officer in the Tigard Police Department and president of the Tigard Police Officers Association.
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