Member Survey Shows Increasingly Low Morale Among Officers
Feedback reveals deep dissatisfaction and spotlights urgent need for leadership
PORTLAND, OR—The Portland Police Association (PPA) recently surveyed its police membership—the rank- and-file officers, sergeants, detectives, criminalists, and public safety support specialists of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). With over 70% participation, their answers reveal increasingly low morale and an urgent need for leadership to right the course and build a stronger and safer City of Portland.
The survey found that 92% of Portland officers report getting no support at all from City Hall and the lack of support greatly affects morale. 93% do not feel valued as employees of the City of Portland. In contrast, 89% feel at least some support from the community.
“The biggest takeaway is that our police officers, who are out there every day serving our communities, are exhausted and frustrated. Their morale is as low as I’ve ever seen it in my 30-year career in law enforcement,” said Daryl Turner, Executive Director of the PPA.
With the catastrophically low staffing levels that continue to worsen, low morale is not a big surprise. When asked for feedback, officer comments revealed the depth of their dissatisfaction and discouragement.
- “Public safety has been abandoned by the City Council for political performance.”
- “The biggest problem in this City is the lack of leadership—at City Hall, in the Chief’s Office, and in the community. No one is standing up for what is actually right.”
- “City government infrastructure has been used to slow and/or stop the Police Bureau’s ability to provide safety and security for the citizens of Portland.”
- “Hard to be a cop when elected leaders think it’s our job to investigate not prevent crime. Tell it to the victims.”
- “I feel like I’m getting abused by the City of Portland. Getting a paycheck from the City does not justify abuse.”
One comment directly addressed the community, “Citizens of Portland, false political narratives from our elected officials have shielded you from the truth. We want to be better, we want to help, but City Council restricts us from protecting.”
Several comments reference prosecutions and the Multnomah District Attorney’s Office. And when asked how often the District Attorney’s office was fulfilling its role in pursuing justice on behalf of our Community when people are accused of breaking the law, over 90% responded “never” or only “once in a while.”
- “It is difficult to work the streets every day and help those in need when I know that our DA will not prosecute most or all the people that I hold accountable for their actions.”
- “Why is the morale gone…? Any work I do as an officer is never prosecuted or sentenced. I feel like it’s Groundhog’s Day. Move the transients around, watch the criminals go free, and repeat.”
- “If the DA and City Council supported rank and file, morale would be better. They make our lives politics rather than recognizing we are human beings.”
- Overall job satisfaction was rated between 3 and 4 on a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest). And many comments confirmed that officers are looking for police jobs elsewhere.
- “How many Officers would leave PPB today if offered a similar job somewhere else, even with less pay if they could maintain shift and days off? I suspect nearly 100%. I would.”
- “I have a conditional offer at another agency and will likely accept it.”
With skyrocketing shootings and homicides this year, public safety is at the forefront of community conversations across the metro area. Crime victims are not getting the justice they deserve. Criminals act with impunity knowing there are no consequences. Our community is suffering. One officer clearly stated the bleak reality, “The City is at a tipping point where the Bureau will not be able to provide any measurable amount of safety services.”
“Portland residents want our city leaders and elected officials to step up and lead us up and out of this crisis and the survey confirms that our Officers are looking for leadership and support,” said Turner. He added, “To start digging us out of this mess, we need a fully funded and staffed Police Bureau—it will uplift morale and give officers the resources they need to protect and serve.”
Our community desperately needs leadership to act; fund and staff our police, and put politics aside and public safety first. “We need your help. We need your support. We are all part of this community together. We are all sick of the ‘us-vs-them’ mentality. We solve problems by working and standing side-by-side, together,” said Turner.
“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “
We couldn’t agree more.
Visit ProtectPortland.org to read about the initiative and sign the online petition asking politicians and leadership to increase public safety funding.
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