PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is calling for more money to rehire officers who have recently retired to address a staffing shortage, as homicides have reached the highest level in more than 20 years.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Wheeler also on Friday called for a citywide expansion of a team that helps people experiencing homelessness or low-acuity behavioral health issues to reduce the number of calls police must handle.
Wheeler said to that end, he expected to ask for a significant funding increase to allow non-emergency calls to be diverted from the 911 emergency dispatch system to an alternate line, the city’s 311 program.
Wheeler said he also plans to seek money to set aside for equipping officers with body-worn cameras.
Wheeler, who serves as police commissioner, and Police Chief Chuck Lovell estimated 80 officers could return to work this year.
Bringing back retirees ensures officers can be put on street patrols or help target gun violence immediately “as well as prevent burnout amongst our current officers,” Wheeler said.