Learn about Commander Parman’s long-time ties to outer East Portland, and his philosophy of policing …
New Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Bryan Parman stands in the parking garage in the Mill Park neighborhood, ready to head out.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Because of several prominent Portland Police Bureau (PPB) supervisors recently retiring, Kelli Sheffer – who’d been the commander of East Precinct for several months – has been given command of Central Precinct downtown.
After having headed the Bureau’s Training Division, located in the Wilkes neighborhood, and then Tactical Operations, the new East Portland supervisor at East Precinct is Commander Bryan Parman.
About a month after Parman took charge, he toured East Portland on January 30 with East Portland News, and shared his thoughts during our ride-along.
Parman said he’s an East Portland native, and a proud graduate Franklin High School. “My son was the fourth-generation of our family to go through Glencoe Elementary; I feel very deep roots to the community.”
The idea of becoming a police officer dated back to his teens, Parman said, when he became a PPB Explorer Scout (these are now called Police Cadets) – meeting at the Southeast Precinct building on Burnside Street.
“From my first ride-along, I was hooked on this as a job,” he reflected. “What I keyed in on initially was the impact police officers have on people’s lives; our ability to be a resource, and be there for people, during what is sometimes the darkest day in their lives.
Commander Parman checks the police cruiser’s “Mobile Data Terminal” for dispatch information.
“And, I liked the idea of being out in the community – not working behind a desk! – and having a degree of autonomy in my daily work,” Parman continued.
Working in the Bureau for years, and moving up the ranks, has helped develop his philosophy of policing, he said. “This profession, policing, is all about people. It’s about making connections.
“My goal as Commander of East Precinct is to strengthen the connections we have with community, and to build new pathways to other communities that don’t currently have a connection with the Bureau.
“The time to establish a relationship is when things are going well – but could be better,” Parman remarked. “There’s never a bad time to build a relationship with someone, or some group.”
Because the boundaries of East Precinct go from the city’s eastern border with Gresham westward to SE Cesar E. Chavez Boulevard (formerly 39th Avenue), the districts therein provide differing challenges.
“Overall, responding to mental-health issues continues to be a challenge,” he reflected. “Often, we’re the first responders to those in crisis; and nowadays we offer a more robust response, with our Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team officers.
“And, we continue to work with our partners to build out a better framework for response,” Parman said. “At the same time, as police, we realize we can’t ‘arrest our way out’ of needs like this; we’re working to create more sustainable solutions.”
From Woodstock to Wilkes, Commander Parman oversees police activity in all of East Portland.
In outer East Portland, Parman told East Portland News, the district officers are engaged with and concerned about the growing housing crisis and very visible homeless population.
“And I’ve seen, just in the few first weeks of the year, property crime is starting to tick up again; there’s a lot of concern about cars getting vandalized, prowled, or stolen,” he said.
After supervising the Gang Enforcement Team, Commander Parman says he’s is aware of gang-related issues.
Speaking about the elevated number of calls for service on the border between the cities of Portland and Gresham, the new commander acknowledged some of it is gang-related.
“My assignment just prior to this was in Tactical Operations, which includes supervising the Gang Enforcement Team, so I know that a fair number of the shootings in the area are along the border.
“We continue to work closely with our Gang Enforcement Team; and, I look forward to building even stronger relationships with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Gresham Police,” said Parman. “The reality is that the boundary between Portland in Gresham is nothing more than an imaginary line that runs down the center of the street. We have an opportunity to pool resources, and see some real change in our neighborhoods.”
Even though many officers and members of the Bureau’s command staff are retiring when they’re able to do so, Parman says he plans to stay on.
“I believe this job as a calling.” Parman stated. “Regardless of what has transpired on the national stage, first and foremost this job is about service. [Circumstances have made] things challenging for police officers. I also believe that, here in Portland, that the community still values us and still wants us to be engaged.
“As a profession, we continue to reinvent ourselves. The types of problems that we’re asked to tackle today are not the types of problems we are asked to address 20 years ago.
Returning to East Precinct, Commander Parman heads back to his office.
“We, as a group of people who are committed to find resolutions to really complex problems, are exploring non-traditional methods to solve some of these problems.
“Quite frankly, that’s what still engages me in this process – being a catalyst to get the right people to the table, to wrap our heads around some really complex problems,” concluded Parman. “There are no easy solutions for many of these problems; but they keep me engaged in this profession.”
© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News