Portland Mayor’s Public Safety Budget Retains 26 Firefighter Jobs

Under the mayor’s proposed budget, the city of Portland would contribute $500,000 toward the opening of a psychiatric emergency center in Northeast Portland, reports oregonlive.com.

The Fire Bureau would receive $1.38 million to retain 26 firefighter jobs next fiscal year, and the city would set aside $1.2 million to support the federally mandated police reforms.

Mayor Charlie Hales, in a prepared release, described part of his proposed budget as intended to “continue investing in an improved relationship between the Portland Police Bureau and the community it serves” and reinvesting in the Fire Bureau.

Under his proposal, the Police Bureau would gain 17 full-time positions. The Police Bureau budget would increase by $2.1 million in ongoing general fund money, plus $168,229 in one-time resources, for a total budget of $186 million, up 1.6 percent from current spending.

The new positions would include: six civilian crime analysts to support the U.S. Department of Justice crime and use of force reporting requirements, a civilian crime analyst for the Gang Enforcement Team, three officers to enforce gun restrictions ordered against people facing domestic violence restraining orders, two more officers and one crime analyst for the Transit Division, one property evidence control specialist and three full-time support positions to help in the operation of a new regional police records system.

The mayor proposed $1.2 million to help the city comply with a U.S. Department of Justice settlement agreement adopted last summer that requires changes to Portland police polices, training and oversight. The agreement stemmed from a federal investigation that found police engaged in a pattern of excessive force against people suffering from mental illness and used stun guns inappropriately.

His package provides a total of $608,405 for the police analysts and $602,080 to cover the contract, support costs and expenses for the city-hired Compliance Officer/Community Liaison team and the Community Oversight Advisory Board.

The mayor proposes investing $500,000 in a psychiatric emergency services center. Four major health-care providers have signed a letter of intent to open a psychiatric emergency department in Legacy’s Northeast Portland building and call it the “Unity Center for Behavioral Health.”

The mayor said the new center “will give first responders a safe and sensible alternative to jail or an emergency room for people undergoing mental health crises.”

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