PORTLAND, Ore. — The numbers speak for themselves.
Not only do 96 percent of the 700 Portland Police Bureau officers who responded to a survey issued by the Portland Police Association rate morale low, 80 percent of them think the job is so bad they wouldn’t recommend it to a friend.
“We’re changing how we deal with people on the street who are suffering from mental illness, a big change with how we use force, huge change in how officers are disciplined when they don’t follow policy, so that causes a lot of stress,” Mayor Charlie Hales said.
Mayor Hales cautions people to take the results with a grain of salt.
“Frankly, this isn’t the first time we’ve had hyperbole come from the Portland Police union and it’ll happen again because that’s what unions do. They make the case, they take to the barricades… truth is, our officers are doing a great job,” Hales said.
But others aren’t dismissing the numbers so quickly.
“Well the first response is, that’s an astounding number,” Ron Louie said of the 96 percent low morale figure.
Ron Louie, now retired, was the Police Chief of the Hillsboro Police Department. His biggest takeaway: officers aren’t happy with staffing levels and their schedules, two problems he dealt with himself.
“(My) officers didn’t like the 8-hour days because they were working five days a week. They preferred 10 and 12 (hour shifts), so scheduling will always come up in police morale,” Louie said.
He said he decided to shake things up, and noticed his officers responded very quickly to the changes he implemented.
His advice to Chief Larry O’Dea: listen to your officers and work on scheduling to help improve morale.