June 23, 2021

Milne News

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Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler disbands mounted police to hire unarmed non-sworn officers

2 min read
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler disbands mounted police to hire unarmed non-sworn officers

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has started plans to implement a pilot program where non-sworn officers will not carry weapons and be used on non-emergency calls.

Wheeler’s plan still needs final approval by the Portland City Council on Dec. 5, according to the Williamette Week.

According to Ted Wheeler the non-sworn officers are called Public Safety Support Specialists and will be utilized on property crimes and break-ins, 

The Portland mayor cut the city’s mounted police from the budget so he can fully fund the Public Safety Support Specialists, which could be hired in January, according to the Williamette Week.

The police union has been in negotiations since July with the city over the new hires.

Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner says the unarmed non-sworn officers won’t respond to calls for service without being accompanied by a sworn officer.

According to the Williamette Week, Turner said they may provide support by working at the front desks at precincts or waiting for tow trucks at the scene of car accidents.

Proponents of hiring the Public Safety Support Specialists said they believe the new officers could build more trust with the public.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has promised to use the saving from cutting the mounted police to fund 14 unarmed community service officers, the Williamette Week also reported.

“When you bring your gun and a badge into a situation, it can make some people uneasy,” says Sam Sachs, a former Portland park ranger, according to the Williamette Week. “If you’re not wearing a gun, it kind of changes things.”

The unarmed Public Safety Support Specialists were pitched last year. Originally, they were supposed to be working by January of 2019, but Portland officials say that won’t happen.

In 2017, Police Chief Mike Marshman said the program was to be modeled after the one in San Diego. Community service officers there patrol neighborhoods and write reports and also help children cross the streets after school, according to the Williamette Week.

Report by Pete Andrews for MilneNews.com

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