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The City of Portland, Oregon

Audit Services

Audits City bureaus and programs for efficiency, effectiveness and equity

1221 SW 4th Avenue, Suite 310, Portland, OR 97204

Public Safety

Browse our audit reports about public safety topics. This includes audits about police, fire and rescue, emergency communications (9-1-1), and emergency management.

Portland Overtime: Management is lax despite high overtime use

In 2018 police overtime was high by historical standards: nearly 250,000 extra hours at a cost of $15.7 million. But the costs of overtime are not just financial. Long hours lead to more accidents, more injuries, and burnout. Secondary employment, which is off-duty contract work, also taxed a system that relied on overtime to meet minimum staffing needs. The program had a low profile and inconsistent procedures despite significant risks. We recommend that the Bureau improve overtime data collection and reporting. We also recommend that the Bureau change the contract approval process for off-duty work and report publicly about customers, hours worked, and finances.

View the presentation and discussion at the November 2019 meeting of the Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing at this link.

Highlights  |  Report  |  October 2019

Follow-up Report  |  December 2020

Portland Police: Improvements made to training program

Since 2015, the Portland Police Bureau has fully implemented recommendations to have the Training Division play a bigger role in assessing policy changes and effects, and to improve weapons check-out procedures. The Bureau is still working to implement some recommendations, including to provide more role-playing scenarios as part of training, to not use profanity or demeaning language, and to use more actual cases as part of ongoing officer training. A recommendation on less-lethal weapon ammunition storage was no longer relevant due to an operational change made by the Bureau.

Report  |  June 2018

Gang Enforcement Patrol: The Police Bureau must show that traffic stops are effective

The Police Bureau's Gang Enforcement Team carried out traffic stops that disproportionately affected African Americans. Community members had concerns that stops were too broad. The Police Bureau cannot show that these stops were effective because officers did not record investigative reasons for making stops and the team did not analyze results of stops. To improve community trust, we recommend improved data collection, analysis, and public reporting. This is the first of two reports on Gang Enforcement.

Highlights  |  Report  |  Video  |  May 2018

Follow-up Report  |  May 2019

Gang Crime Investigations: Lack of accountability and transparency reduced the community's trust in Police

The Police Bureau's Gang Enforcement Team collected information about people's gang associations. The team created lists of "most active" gang members and associates, but without setting up safeguards or seeking public input. We recommend adoption of a policy. The team can also make improvements to its case management. This is the second of two reports on Gang Enforcement.


Highlights  |  Report  |  Video  |  May 2018

Follow-up Report  |  May 2019

Presidential Campaign Visits: The City should follow policy and charge for services

Cities incur costs when presidential campaigns visit. It cost the City of Portland at least $180,000 to protect recent visitors, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Bill Clinton. Current policy requires the City to bill and collect its costs, but the City has not billed campaigns for candidate visits. We recommend that the City follow its policy and bill campaigns for the cost of City services.

Report  |  Follow-up blog post  |  May 2016

Red Light Cameras: City can fine tune some program aspects and solidify plans for future

Crash rates at intersections with red light camera were lower than before the cameras were installed and lower than at most dangerous intersections without cameras. The City would benefit from more strategic planning for the next phase of the program, including reviews of costs and best practices, clarifying roles, and more attention to ensuring the vendor’s processes are up-to-date and producing optimal results.

Report  |  July 2015  

Police Training Division: Progress made, but evaluating impacts on officer performance must be improved

The Police have made many improvements to training since the U.S. Department of Justice reached an agreement with the City. The Training Division became more professionalized, plans were on track to better evaluate training effectiveness, and more scenario-based training was planned. But the Police Bureau did not always keep the momentum going when an important event showed the need for additional training; did not do much to systematically feed real-world outcomes back to Training; and needed improvements in such areas as record keeping, consistently providing de-escalation scenarios, and use of force analyses.        

Report |  March 2015

Further audits about public safety

Sexual Assault Response: Progress made toward a victim-centered approach (Report 445) - 2/25/14

Emergency Communications: Training, quality control and procedures warrant improvement (Report 430) - 7/15/13

Emergency Management: Coordination improved and most essential functions complete (Report 441) - 6/24/13

Public Safety Systems Revitalization Program: Management problems impact cost and schedule goals (Report 422) - 4/4/2013

Portland Fire & Rescue: More active management of overtime and call shifts needed for good stewardship of limited resources (Report 418) - 6/28/12

Portland Police Bureau Learning: Improvements needed to strengthen existing processes (Report 416) - 5/15/12

DNA Testing: Turnaround time must improve to meet national guidelines (Report 427) - 1/12/12

Fire and Police Disability and Retirement: Improvements resulted from 2006 Charter reforms, but significant fiscal challenges remain (Report 408) - 6/22/11

Police Property Evidence Division: Internal controls and physical security strong; tracking system needs improvement (Report 403) - 4/4/11