Police Assn. Prez pitches for support from locals

Learn the views of Daryl Turner, as expressed at a recent Gateway Area Business Association meeting …

Members serve themselves a hot lunch as the meeting of the Gateway Area Business Association gets underway in the Hazelwood neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Neighborhood associations and business districts need to band together in support of their local police to combat livability and crime issues.

That was the main message expressed by Portland Police Association (PPA) President Daryl Turner to the fourteen members and guests of the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) on April 11 at the luncheon held at Advantage Funeral and Mortuary in the Gateway Business District.

The most challenging quandary within the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is a lack of support – by officials and others, Turner told East Portland News.

The meeting’s host, Pam Henkel, from Advantage Funeral and Mortuary, introduces the speaker.

“In my opinion this situation is a very tough dynamic to navigate, politically,” remarked Turner, himself a sworn PPB officer.

“I’ve seen how the livability issues of our city have deteriorated, while officers and command staff are frustrated not being able to do their job,” Turner said. “Politically, the agendas of some people on City Council, as well as some of the people that get the ‘ear’ of the media are anti-police, which affects all of the citizens in the City of Portland,” he said.

The Police Bureau is woefully understaffed, says 28 year PPB officer and Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner.

And, at the same time, the Police Bureau is understaffed, the police association leader said – with 120 vacancies and just over 800 officers, which means about 370 officers on duty at any given time.

“When you don’t see a way to be able to do the job that we should be able to do, and the time comes when you can retire, [officers or command staff members] go to other places and work,” Turner said.

The “political climate” he described also hurts recruitment, he asserted. “I know for a fact that other law enforcement agencies use this as a recruiting tool, asking potential officers, ‘Do you really want to work in Portland, when you could work here?’”

People who support their police force shouldn’t be chastised, PPA President Daryl Turner says.

During the meeting Turner reiterated these sentiments.

“We have a lot of support from the residents of the City of Portland; but, those are not the people we hear from all the time,” Turner said. “For example, at a ‘listening session’ with Chief Outlaw not long ago, people who voiced their support of our Bureau and officers were publically chastised; that shouldn’t be happening.”

Turner told the group that the PPA’s primary purpose is to advocate for its members.  “Also, I meet with Chief Outlaw at least once a month, and talk about community issues; as well [meeting] as some members of the Portland City Council, with the exception of Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who will not meet with me.”

Homelessness isn’t illegal, but it does contribute to livability issues, says Daryl Turner.

About 60% of the calls received by the 9-1-1 Center are regarding livability issues, he observed. “You can see the livability issues anywhere you go with tents set up, and garbage strewn around – yet, our local elected officials act like they’re wearing ‘blinders’, preventing them from seeing these issues.”

One of the areas that looks trashy, Turner pointed out, is the former strip club that was turned into a homeless shelter on SE Stark Street at 167th Avenue. “We spent the tax dollars on a building that was already condemned, and put people in there, and when the roof started to leak like a sieve they closed it down. What’s happened to those people, when they closed it down?”

Human Solutions Executive Director Andy Miller “corrects the record” regarding their now-shuttered homeless shelter on SE Stark Street.

“I want to correct the record. The building was not condemned; it had a ‘certificate of occupancy’ to move folks in; the roof never collapsed,” interjected Human Solutions Executive Director Andy Miller.

“I didn’t say [the roof] collapsed!” Turner rejoined.

“It had some leaks. The investment in the building, I agree, was too small at the inception, but it was always envisioned as a temporary shelter,” retorted  Miller. All of the families there were successfully relocated to temporary shelter around East Portland – in area motels,” Miller said. “As soon as we get financing we’re going to raise the building; is always our plan to build affordable housing there.”

“Look anywhere in the city, and anyone can see we have a homeless problem,” Turner responded. “Affordable housing is something we need more of, but, it’s tough to get housing built really fast. It takes time.”

Attendees listen, but also ask questions about how homelessness affects the quality of life in outer East Portland.

Livability issues affect every-day residents, commented a GABA member. “It wasn’t long a go that the [NE Glisan Street) Safeway store closed down because of theft,” she said. “And, now we’re concerned about the Gateway Fred Meyer store. If Kroger is unable to address the situation at this store – they have a homeless problem inside the Gateway Fred Meyer – it will likely close, and it’s going to get exponentially worse here.”

“2018, percentagewise in Oregon, was number two in the nation with unsheltered people,” pointed out Turner. “20% to 25% of those people are ‘resource resistant’; this could be because of mental health issues, or addiction issues. But some of those [unhoused] people are the criminal element; there are not going to stop doing crimes, and those people we have to deal with through the criminal justice system.”

While police officers and commanders generally feel supported by the community at large, it’s important, Turner said, for neighborhoods and business associations to form coalitions to advocate better support of the Portland Police Bureau to elected officials.

Meet with GABA
GABA next meets on May 9, from noon until 1:00 p.m. at Advantage Funeral & Cremation, 1515 NE 106th Avenue 97220.

For more information, see their NEW website: CLICK HERE.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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