Police pitch citizen participation in City budget planning

Find out how much money may be taken from the Police Bureau – and, how you can let our public safety agency know your priorities before the next budget is set ….

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Commander Bill Walker welcomes a standing-room-only group to the first East Precinct Citizens Advisory meeting of 2011.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Year after year, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has faced budget cuts – some so large that they recently had to trim their precincts from five to three – and it looks as if they’ll be asked to pare another $160,000 from their budget this year.

This was the message PPB’s Services Manager, Mike Kuykendall, brought to the 50 folks attending the East Precinct Citizens Advisory meeting on January 4.

Portland Police Bureau Director of Services, Mike Kuykendall, tells how the Bureau’s budget is allocated.

Kuykendall – a former Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney who was recruited to the Police Bureau last July – began, “As a ‘neighborhood DA’, I always found the input from people like you, who come to these meetings month after month, very valuable.”

The Police Bureau turns to its Budget Advisory Committee, Kuykendall said, to “look at all the numbers, drilling down on items like [personnel] overtime, and even the cost of [patrol vehicle] tires and safety flares. We operate with the largest public safety budget in the State.”

According to the revised budget sheets handed out at the meeting, the Bureau’s current budget totals $159,795,443.

A chart made it clear that well over half of the budget is spent in three areas:

  • 40%: Emergency Response and Problem Solving – Including paying for 459 fulltime positions, mostly at Portland’s remaining 3 precincts.
  • 12%: Investigations – Funding 176 fulltime positions in the sections of detectives, forensics staff , and property evidence.
  • 10%: Cycle of Violence Reduction – Including 93 jobs in Tactical Operations, Drugs & Vice, Family Services, and Service Coordination.

Kuykendall pointed out that while 40% of the total budget is a great deal of money, Portland is served by 1.68 officers per 1,000 population – while Seattle has 2.23 cops-per-thousand on the street, and Cleveland, Ohio, has 3.76 per thousand population.

“Even with our number of officers, we’re still going for a five minute response time. And, we’re meeting our goal.”

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese says his agency keeps crime down with fewer cops, per capita, than other cities.

PPB Chief Mike Reese was also at the meeting, and added, “When we’ve had to make cuts in past years, we made it in detectives for property crimes and precinct detectives. Most cities about our size have more officers – but have more crime. It appears as if ‘Community Policing’ works.”

Nevertheless, with residential burglaries up 28% in the past year, and with 15% more vehicles stolen, the Bureau has room for improvement. “We’ve formed a Citywide Burglary Task Force, patterned on the one that’s been so successful here in East Precinct, to reduce this statistic,” Reese announced.

Another 1% cut looms
The bad news, Kuykendall revealed, is that the Portland City Council told the Police Bureau to trim another 1%, or about $160,000, from their budget. “We’re asking for your help in making these decisions,” he said.

With that, staff members from his office handed out survey sheets designed to get citizen input help them set funding priorities.

Neighbors chime in
After the meeting, Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood fixture Dick Hazeltine said, “I’d like to see a little more police presence in the neighborhood. But, overall, our police do pretty good for what they have to work with. Any help that citizens can give them, they deserve it.”

A specific recommendation, Hazeltine said, was to more fully staff the Neighborhood Response Team officers. “They’re the ones I’d turn to when we have a specific issue.”

Walt Nichols, Chair of the Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Association, chimed in, “My suggestion is that we don’t cut public safety. We need community policing more than a $600 million bike path program. Our police officers are going from emergency to emergency.”

PPB’s Mike Kuykendall asks for public input regarding the Bureau’s budget.

Do your part: take a survey
Seeking as wide citizen input as possible, Kuykendall announced that the Bureau has placed an online version of the survey at their website. “Encourage your neighbors to take a moment to fill in the survey,” he requested.

You’ll find it under their “contact us” link; or, simply CLICK HERE to open the page.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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