Officers are leaving the Portland Police Bureau in droves, citing reasons such as city leadership, budget cuts, and protests, The Oregonian reports.
Since July 1, 115 officers have left the Portland Police Bureau. 74 of which retired, and 41 resigned, with an additional two resigning and one retiring at the end of April.
Of those that left, 31 of which filled out the voluntary exit form, The exit forms, obtained by The Oregonian highlighted a wide dissatisfaction with the bureau. Many would not recommend a job there.
One officer wrote that everyone was "overworked, overwhelmed and burned out."
The Portland police have, as of mid-march, 93 sworn officer positions and 43 civilian positions open. Those leaving and a hiring freeze put in place in July have left a huge gap in forces. Many officers, according top the Police bureau, are moving to other agencies around the state.
In their exit forms, some officers wrote about budget cuts connected with the defund the police movement that gained momentum last year.
One training officer who retired told The Oregonian that officers are "de-policing due to fear of being accused of excessive force.... What the city council has done to beat down the officers’ willingness to do police work is unfathomable...I have never seen morale so low. Officers leaving mid-career and sometimes sooner to go to other agencies. Officers retiring when they would have stayed longer if the situation were different."
Another officer, Jakarta Jackson, left over the summer in response to protests. Jackson, who was an officer of color, was yelled at by many young white protestors over the summer. He said when he would try to speak to someone of color at a protest "Someone white comes up and blocks them and tells them not to talk." Or yells, "Eff the police ... don’t talk to him."
A Latino officer who left in February cited the need for repaired community relations and the struggles of officers of color to fit into the bureau.
"It should be time to repair relations with the community,” he said. Also cited as a reason for leaving, he said “Too many officers believing they are better than the public because they are cops … Still too many officers who are not culturally competent & refuse to have an open mind about the struggles of the community."
Many officers wrote about their dissatisfaction with city council, something Assistant Chief Mike Frome, who oversees the Personnel Division of the bureau, says they cannot control.
"A lot of those things in those exit interviews, nobody in the chief’s office have any power over,” Frome said. “We don’t have any power over City Council. We don’t have any power over the mayor or the governor or any members of City Council. We can only focus on what we can do here," said Frome.