Portland’s top cops discuss public safety with business leaders

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – It was breakfast from the side of public safety.

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell and Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell participated in a panel and answered questions about public safety during a breakfast hosted by the Portland Business Alliance.

Their responses were generally optimistic that the public would see progress in increasing security. But they also said the metro area is far from solving public safety issues.

“Now we’re in a position where the collaboration that I see across the board between our local, state and federal public safety partners, our community groups, I think they’re in a really great place to find the best solutions to solve today’s extreme problem of challenging public safety issues. security,” said Sheriff Morrisey O’Donnell.

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The sheriff said her law enforcement department is almost fully staffed. Chief Lovell also reiterated the promising staffing numbers and said there are now more than 800 sworn officers in the bureau. Even so, the boss said recruitment will still be an ongoing battle.

“There’s a lot of hiring pressure, then a hiring freeze, a lot of hiring pressure, a hiring freeze and it’s not working,” Chief Lovell said. “It really needs to be a sustainable thing that has support and adequate resources. You have to hire too much expecting resignations, retirements and things like that.”

Chief Lovell also said there is a problem at the state level. The wait for the police academy, a requirement to become a police officer, is up to five months.

“When we hire someone, we usually let them go for five months to do different types of roles in the police office until we get that academy date,” Chief Lovell said.

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Watch the entire one-hour panel here

On the prosecution side of the justice system, Schmidt said getting back to face-to-face with other law enforcement officers helps more than the public realizes.

“It’s not that those conversations haven’t happened in the last two years, but I think the ability to do that, to build relationships and get to know each other and have those conversations after the meetings, is the key to how this is going to work to make us a safer community,” he said. is Schmidt.

The district attorney also referred to the problem of people who are arrested, then released, and then suspected of repeating the crime. He said he was frustrated that this was happening. One of the main problems, according to Schmidt, is the lack of public defenders. A problem beyond the control of his office.

Defenders are funded at the state level, not at the county level. Without legal counsel available to represent people accused of crimes, Schmidt said his office can’t do much to prevent people from reoffending.

“You have to think of our criminal justice system as an ecosystem,” Schmidt said. “You have to think about it because all the different parts have to be healthy and functional if we’re going to get the results we want. And public defenders are part of that ecosystem, as are our police, as are our sheriff’s deputies and jails, we’re all part of that ecosystem.”

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Watch the full video of the panel above for additional details on public safety, including 911 call center staffing and the fentanyl crisis.

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