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Commissioner Steve Novick

Official Website for Commissioner Steve Novick

Phone: 503-823-4682

fax: 503-823-4019

1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204

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Portland Mercury: Novick Makes One Last Play to Cut Cops' Drugs Unit: "I Would Rather Preserve Firefighter Jobs"

May 28, 2014 | Portland Mercury-- In the midst of this morning's vote to approve Portland's next operating budget, due to take effect July 1, City Commissioner Steve Novick revived his controversial push to cut the Portland Police Bureau's Drugs and Vice Division—issuing an 11th-hour amendment asking his colleagues to phase out the unit starting in summer of 2015.

Novick's motion—written in the form of a "budget note" meant to guide next spring's budget process—also looked to slice out arguably redundant command staffers in the bureau's records and personnel decisions. That last bit marked "a modest step" toward realizing the results of a city study on supervisor ratios that found the police particularly top heavy. All told, Novick's plan would have reduced the cops' ongoing budget by $783,456, converting that sum to one-time funding instead.

This amendment changes the funding source for 5.0 Officers and 1.0 Sergeant in the Police Bureau Drug and Vice Division, 1.0 Captain from the Records Division and 1.0 Lieutenant from Personnel Division. The funding source changes from General Fund ongoing to one-time funds. All positions will be converted from regular full-time to limited-term full-time positions. The Portland Police Bureau’s General Fund Current Appropriation Level for FY 2015-16 is reduced by $783,456.

But almost as quickly as it arose, the motion was put down. Mayor Charlie Hales, who actually oversees the police bureau, swiftly indicated he'd vote no—followed by City Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Nick Fish. The whole discussion, however, was a brief burst of drama in an otherwise scripted process that rarely sees commissioners so boldly and forcefully veer from their prescribed policy lanes.

"Forty years of experience and research related to the war on drugs indicates arresting dealers simply because they're drug dealers is not an effective strategy. As long as there is demand there will be a supply," Novick explained before his colleagues took their shots.

But it wasn't just a question of funding a failed policy, as he sees it, he said. He also touched on another live wire that was largely punted during this year's READ FULL ARTICLE