This Week in the Mercury


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Portlanders Love the Police and City More Than They Did Five Years Ago

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Thu, Nov 12, 2009 at 11:45 AM

So do you love Portland more than you did five years ago? A report the City Auditor's office released today says: probably yes.

According to the survey of 3,194 random Portlanders (pdf), regular residents' perception of both the police and the city government are significantly more positive than they were five years ago. Almost two-thirds of Portlanders think the city is doing a good or very good job overall, a whopping 11 percent increase over five years ago (with the notable exception of East Portland, where only 48 percent of citizens think the local government is doing a good job). Surprisingly, I think, the city government received the highest rankings from inner NE residents, where 74 percent think the bureaucracy is doing a good job.

But NE residents were also among the most critical on the question, "How do you rate the City of Portland's efforts to control misconduct by police officers?" Forty percent of North Portlanders and 43 percent of inner NE Portlanders felt good about the polices' efforts, while 22 and 23 percent, respectively, felt "bad" or "very bad" about police control of misconduct.

But overall, Portlanders 71 percent of Portlanders think the police are doing a good job—an eight percent increase over five years ago.

One of the most split results came from a question asking about how Portlanders feel about being able to influence city government's opinions. One-third said "good" or "very good" and another third said "bad" or "very bad." Though, uh, I should point out that between 60-70 percent of Portlanders didn't attend a single public meeting during the last year, so those are maybe more armchair-philosopher speculations than anything.

So what's going on here? People rated the police and the general livability of Portland higher than they EVER have during the last five years, despite the economic downturn, an investigation into James Chasse's death that took three years and the city having to slash its bureaus by 30 percent in some cases. Are people keeping a stiff upper lip in down times or is the city PR machine buzzing just better than usual?

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