Update 6:04 PM: Commissioner Steve Novick is firing some shots across the bow.
He's offered some controversial reflections on the police bureau's budget in a memo (pdf) sent to his colleagues on the Portland City Council. Novick who oversees the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management and Portland Bureau of Transportation, has suggested commissioners judge his budget requests in terms of their own public safety value.
Which could mean cutting the police bureau even further—in part to pay for projects like an outfitted Westside emergency operations center and new sidewalks and crossings in East Portland. Novick has raised cutting senior commanders back (a complaint echoed by the Portland Police Association), ditching the mounted patrol, and cutting the drugs and vice division.
"It is my understanding that the Division does not focus on open-air drug markets that are a threat to community livability, but on pursuing ‘mid and high level drug dealers.’ In other words, the Division is engaged in the failed national 40-year effort to interrupt the supply of drugs."
"When the mounted patrol was restored in the last budget," he told me recently, "my joking comment was you need four horsemen for the apocalypse. But when the apocalypse comes in Portland it will be in the form of a large earthquake. And the emergency operations center will be a lot more useful than the horsemen."
Original post starts here:
The bureau's budget request, posted today on the city budget office's website, anticipates the bureau's spending increasing by only half that amount—or about $2.4 million. And even that mostly accounts for inflation and cost-of-living increases factored into the city's revenue forecasts. New spending requested by the bureau amounts to just $471,000.
The document, however, still show signs of the ambition bureau brass shared when speaking with the O earlier this month. It waxes rhapsodically on the need for major wish list items, including a reopened Southeast Precinct, provisions to outfit all police vehicles with recording devices, and beefed-up gang and school resource units. It just doesn't attach dollar amounts to those items. What's left is a list of frustrations: an increase in service calls at schools on Mondays, the day resource officers aren't there, lower targets for clearing cases, fewer detectives working than ever, and other operational grievances.
Instead, the biggest individual request amounts to $250,000, for the partial restoration of the Traffic Division's night squad. The other expenses are as follows: (1) $68,700 for negotiated pay raises for lieutenants, captains, and commanders, and (2) $152,000 for a full-time equity analyst tasked with reviewing bureau policies and procedures for racial and other other impacts.
The bureau, during last year's budget whack in the face of a $21.5 million deficit, lost 50-some positions and took millions in ongoing cuts. It narrowly avoided its first layoffs in decades. Mayor Charlie Hales has been demanding bureaus hand in "stabilization budgets," with add-ons considered only if they fall into one of three priorities: homelessness and hunger, neighborhood livability, and emergency preparedness.
Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes, confirmed that budget requests had been landing in the mayor's office. But he wasn't able to immediately comment on whether Hales, who oversees the cops as police commissioner, prevailed upon Chief Mike Reese to submit something smaller than anticipated.
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