Mayor Ted Wheeler hopes to rehire 100 retired Portland police officers amid this record year for homicides.
Wheeler had several ideas to stem gun violence and said it's his top priority during a one-on-one interview with KOIN 6 News on Oct. 21. He talked about reinvesting in Portland Police Bureau, with more accountability and oversight. He also said he wanted to see additional dollars directed to the bureau.
In the Oct. 21 interview, Wheeler said, "The overall strategy is … about refocusing, we have a shortage of police."
Wheeler said he wants to add even more officers in the long term, but in the immediate future he wants to bring back 100 officers who recently left the bureau through the retire-rehire program. It allows the bureau to bring back retired officers and employ them again.
Wheeler pointed out that adding officers to the bureau is something he's been pushing for a while now.
"Our city police bureau is critically understaffed," the mayor said. "Chief Lovell believes we need 300 officers in the next three years to bring us back to where we need to be."
Some commissioners have been vocal about not wanting to add officers in the past, but Wheeler said he now has the support of the City Council.
"It has been challenging and, I'm not going to lie, there's a lot going on. There are multiple crises unfolding in our city," he said.
Many community members have said they don't feel the city government is working for them when it comes to gun violence.
"I want them to know we hear them, and it has taken longer than I hoped," Wheeler said. "I had hoped I would have council support last summer, last spring. I didn't have the support then, but I have the support now. We are going to move forward with redoubled efforts."
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said she doesn't think officers should be preventative in their efforts. She thinks their role is just investigative.
The council is scheduled to readjust the current budget in early November. The City Budget Office has said $31 million in surplus funds are now available to be spent.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.