January 23, 2021 13:15
There has been an increased public interest in calls to the Bureau of Emergency Communications for police response, including how long it takes for calls for service to be answered. This became a renewed focus during the summer months of 2020 as the Police Bureau responded to over 100 days of civil unrest throughout the City in addition to other calls for police service. While high priority calls for service took longer to respond to during the summer months, progress has been made in decreasing response time and other steps are being taken to further address the issue.
* The monthly average for time to respond to a high priority call for service increased from June and peaked in August and has reduced each month since. To see the open data dashboard, visit this link: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/76454
* A number of factors drive the response time, including, but not limited to: what other calls are happening in the precinct or citywide that are requiring resources, how many officers are available in a geographic region, what the type of call is and its corresponding priority level, how many resources are needed to address the type of call in as safe a manner as possible, the time of day and day of the week, and traffic conditions affecting officer drive time.
* PPB uses call data to inform the current staffing model so there are more officers assigned during times of the day when more priority calls for service occur.
* PPB is re-allocating officers from other units back to patrol on February 4, 2021 to increase patrol resources to decrease overtime expenditures and assist with calls for service response. This is the soonest these officers can be re-assigned to provide appropriate notification time per the PPA contract.
* Some calls for service are determined to be informational in nature or not criminal matters. Patrol supervisors are trained to balance the call load with available resources and in certain cases can cancel the call. There is a procedure for this, and supervisors are tasked with balancing public expectations, Bureau resources, the Bureau's mission, values, and goals, and dedication to community policing. A decision to cancel police response carries with it the obligation to attempt to contact those requesting police services and inform them why there will be no response.
* Previously, PPB created a pilot project and assigned a Sergeant to BOEC which was successful in diverting calls for service to other more appropriate agencies and to triage calls overall. This work was done using overtime, which was unsustainable given the budget challenges we face. PPB is looking into the possibility of whether this program can be brought back as a permanent program.
"Responding when our community calls for help is our core function, and it's disheartening when we don't meet expectations," said Deputy Chief Chris Davis. "I'm encouraged that we're seeing improved call response despite unprecedented budget and staffing challenges. That's a testament to the dedication of our patrol officers. We will do everything we can, within the limited resources we have, to meet our community's public safety needs."
PPB remains committed to continuing to assess and manage resources and adapt to changing public safety needs. We will continue to look for opportunities to improve and keep the public informed of our progress.
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