Portland Crisis: With 120 Vacancies, Only 3 Out Of 60 Applicants Pass Police Background Check
Last month TGP reported that internal politics and a pro-antifa attitude inside the Portland Police Bureau leadership and city hall has led to an exodus of officers leaving the bureau, either retiring early or going to work for other agencies in the area. With 120 job openings, reports are now coming out that would-be new hires are failing pass the introductory background check. Bigly.
The assistant chief told the City Commissioners that out of more than 60 people who applied for public safety specialist jobs, only 3 passed background checks. The biggest reasons for their disqualification is past drug use or dishonesty in their application.
Police applicants who have used marijuana in the past year don’t pass a PPB background check because marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
With so many vacancies in the PPB, some City Council members wondered if there should be fewer supervisors and more patrol officers.
“Is there a way to reconfigure your workforce to have more officers on the street rather than in supervisor or specialty units?” Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty asked.
“I’m sure there is a way to flatten the hierarchy,” Outlaw said. “But the issue with that is to maintain accountability and chain of command.”
The Portland Police Bureau says it is struggling to fill open positions within the agency, with 120 current openings for sworn officers and dozens of openings for non-sworn positions, according to bureau officials.
Right now, it’s especially difficult for the bureau because of unfortunate timing. Police Chief Danielle Outlaw says between February and March, the bureau lost 44 people due to retirement.
At a Portland City Council meeting Tuesday, bureau officials explained that several applicants have failed background checks.
“The biggest things that we see these days are drug use, dishonesty that we uncover in their backgrounds with self-admissions,” Chris Davis, assistant chief of police, said.
According to Lee, there are 39 vacant non-sworn-in positions, including police specialist positions, known as PS3s, who would respond to non-emergency calls and do not carry guns.
“We’ve gone back now to the wealth of applicants and taken the next 100 to start getting them through the process,” Davis said. “We sent 61 people to background investigations so far, and so far from this initial group, three have passed. We have had a very high background failure rate. Of the three who passed, we lost one to another agency, so we have two.”
Meanwhile, Outlaw Tuesday also spoke about the nature of police work in Portland, saying it can be difficult to attract good candidates.
“We deal with demonstrations, protests, crowd management, we catch a lot of headlines,” Outlaw said. “And quite frankly, folks would rather go to other agencies and make similar or more money for less scrutiny.”
Davis says they’ve been getting on average about 103 applications a month, but the process of doing those background and reference checks is very time consuming.
(Yes, the chief’s name is Outlaw.)
Of the three who passed, Davis says one of them withdrew from the PPB application and signed up with another law enforcement agency. In fact, one inside source at the Portland Police Bureau tells The Gateway Pundit that other agencies, namely the suburban city departments and county sheriffs, are poaching new recruits away from Portland. The Jeff Niiya fiasco continues to be referenced, as many consider that covfefe as city officials railroading officers.
When your police agency has scared off everyone of any moral character, you’re left scraping the bottom of the barrel. This is the result. This also might have something to do with the fact that 95% of Portland Police officers being hesitant to stop certain people because they don’t want to be accused of profiling or face a lawsuit.
But that’s not all, folks.
Neighboring law enforcement agencies who have maintained partnerships and cooperative relationships with Portland Police are now discontinuing those agreements, citing a danger to their officers and the financial risks that are taken by doing police work in Portland.
In an unprecedented move, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is pulling back some of its support and resources given to the Portland Police Bureau.
It’s common for law enforcement agencies to work together on cases, offering resources and support but this move, detailed in an internal memo obtained exclusively by FOX 12, will change the agency’s relationship with PPB moving forward.
According to the internal memo, the decision has nothing to do with any bad blood between the agencies – rather the current political climate in Portland and what the agency’s legal counsel calls an “anti-police attitude.”
WCSO said it will no longer authorize its deputies to respond to calls in Portland, if a case has no proven connection to its jurisdiction.
Sheriff Patrick Garrett enacted the new directive Thursday.
“This has been in the works for the past year, since the Flores-Haro civil suit.”
That case, involving Washington County tactical officers who were called in to help Portland police serve an arrest warrant, ended with a bystander being shot.
It also resulted in a $7 million-dollar verdict against Washington County in a civil case. The county ultimately paid out a little more than a million dollars to the plaintiff.
“If we’re engaged in a use of force event in the city of Portland the likelihood that costs are going to be significant as a result of that are just higher,” he said.
The agency’s Senior Assistant County Counsel, Elmer Dickens, explained why in the internal email sent on Thursday.
In it, he writes, “the makeup of the Portland jury pool and the anti-police attitudes of many residents appears to have a large impact upon the DA’s ability to successfully bring charges against suspects that are injured in police use of force cases.”
Dickens also appears to criticize the way the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office handles officer involved shootings.
Dickens writes, “A policy of making every officer who uses deadly force become a criminal suspect in a grand jury proceeding is disturbing.”
“Officers should not be made criminal suspects simply because they do their job. If the force appears to be reasonable under a totality of the circumstances and there are no facts that indicate a crime has been committed, it seems inappropriate to take that case to the grand jury.”
In the letter, Dickens shares another concern regarding who pays the legal costs in the event of a deputy involved shooting.
According to him, the city of Portland has a policy reserving the right to indemnify officers involved in shooting investigations, meaning if the officer is found to have violated a suspect’s civil rights, he or she will be responsible for all legal costs.
“That is hugely stressful for the officer who is at-risk of losing his or her personal assets while the case drags on for years until the case goes to trial,” writes Dickens. He added, “the City has done this to its own officers, and there is no reason to think that your deputies would be treated differently.”
Other neighboring agencies are preparing to follow.
The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office is considering restricting its cooperation with the Portland Police Bureau.
In an email FOX 12 obtained exclusively, in late February, Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts wrote to his deputies, “I will not place our staff at unnecessary personal risk when acting under law and authority as a police officer.”
In the letter, he explains, if a Clackamas County deputy responds to a case within Portland’s jurisdiction and it results in the use of force, that deputy can be held financially liable in court.
To minimize the legal risk to his staff, Sheriff Roberts states in the letter, he requested Portland city leaders agree to indemnify, or cover the legal expenses, for deputies if their help was requested by PPB. He says, his request was denied.
According to Daryl Turner, President of the Portland Police Association, the email is a sign of deteriorating relationships between Portland’s city leaders and neighboring law enforcement agencies.
Turner said he understands the motive behind these agencies choosing to restructure their mutual aid agreements with PPB.
“They’re looking out for their deputies.”
And, according to Turner, Vancouver Police Department is also considering make these changes. FOX 12 did reach out to VPD to confirm.
A VPD spokesperson said, “The Vancouver Police Department’s projected 2019 projects do include revisiting the terms of our Mutual Aid Interlocal Agreements with nearby agencies.”
Welcome to Portland, where you have to wonder if the decline is by incompetence or by design.