Table of Contents:   


Community Policing


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Community policing works.

Section Summary

Portlanders overwhelmingly support the concept of community policing and want to see the Portland Police Bureau more fully embrace this approach. Portlanders see community policing as a cost-effective way to increase neighborhood safety while building positive relationships between law enforcement and community members. They want police officers and community members to view each other as allies in the fight against crime, rather than antagonists with separate cultures and values.

In order to accomplish this, they believe that police officers need to make themselves more visible and accessible throughout the city, getting out of their cars, greeting residents and attending local neighborhood meetings. They also believe that police must change the way in which they relate to members of the public, becoming more friendly, culturally competent and non-violent in their approach.

Summary of Main Ideas

  1. Community policing enjoys broad-based support in Portland.
  2. The Police Bureau needs to prioritize community policing approaches.


  1. Community policing enjoys broad-based support in Portland.
  • Respondents are nearly unanimous in their support of community policing methods and approaches.
  • Even Portlanders who are highly critical of the Police Bureau in general hold a positive view of community policing.
  • Community policing is credited with:
    • Engaging community members in effective crime prevention efforts;
    • Increasing neighborhood safety;
    • Improving relations between community members and the police;
    • Providing youth with positive encounters with law enforcement; and
    • Saving taxpayer money.
"[I would like to see] more community policing, thus more community participation within neighborhoods. Also, more outreach community activities to help local people in our own communities.”

“[In the future] every neighborhood is very walkable, safe, and with an active community. A seven year old child can safely accompany his wheelchair-bound grandmother on foot to an elementary school, a public park, grocery shopping, neighborhood restaurants and other businesses (dentist, barber, etc)….A critical component of Portland’s public safety strategy is strong communities. Most neighborhoods have a small community police precinct open 24 hours a day, and several officers driving or bicycling the beat within the neighborhood. The police officers are assigned to neighborhoods on a long-term basis; some officers may spend their entire career working in one neighborhood, and most live in the neighborhood they patrol. Police are more than just crime control; they actively promote neighborhood interaction. The police encourage and even sponsor neighborhood events to help people meet their neighbors, and actively promote community policing…"

“[In 20 years], the everyday citizens works hand in hand with local officers to keep their community drug free and crime free.”

  1. The Police Bureau needs to prioritize community policing approaches.
  • Portlanders want to see a much greater focus on community policing, which they believe will transform the police bureau into a force that community members trust and respect.
  • Portlanders don’t necessarily want more police officers, but they do want police officers to be much more visible in communities.
  • As part of a commitment to community policing, Portlanders want to see the following take place:
    • More officers “out and about” in neighborhoods, riding bikes, horses, or finding other ways to get out of their cars;
    • Officers interacting casually with community members in friendly, respectful ways;
    • Officers regularly attending neighborhood association meetings and other neighborhood events;
    • Community members working together with law enforcement to solve local problems;
    • Police officers working with children, teenagers and young adults to create positive bonds of trust and mutual respect;
    • An ethnically and culturally diverse police force that better represents the communities it serves; and
    • Less mistrust and fear between community members and police officer.
"[I would like to see] the younger cops to be more people oriented. They truly lack the old school - say hi and wave to neighbors when you’re working in your yard or sitting outside. In the early 90’s I knew all the officers at NE precinct, even my district officer. Now I don’t have a clue who’s who.”

"[In the future] we have a little more peace and our kids have stopped killing each other. Our communities have come together and work as one. The police have become better partners in the community. My kids are safe in the community.”

“[In 20 years], the police are approachable.”

Sample Strategies:

  1. Provide training to the police on how they can become more approachable, more service-oriented, and more involved in the community.
  2. Locate police departments within major Portland neighborhoods.
  3. Put police officers on consistent beats and require them to introduce themselves to their beat at monthly community meetings.
  4. Encourage or require police officers to live in the neighborhoods they patrol, in order to encourage neighborhood interaction and mutual support.
  5. Make sure that some police live in high-crime neighborhoods.
  6. Develop new guidelines that police must abide by when interacting with members of the public.
  7. Create community centers in each neighborhood where people can access public safety resources. These will become neighborhood hubs where people interested in supporting neighborhood safety can meet and strategize.

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