want to develop more trusting and respectful
relations between the police force and the community.
Portlanders hold their police force to a high standard,
and they want to ensure that officers are well-trained,
respectful and community-minded. They express resentment
toward police officers that don't appear to meet these standards;
for instance, officers that are seen breaking traffic rules.
Many Portlanders in this section express alarm over officer-involved
shootings and other instances that end in violence. They
fear that police officers will use excessive force against
unarmed individuals who pose no immediate danger to the
community. People are particularly concerned about racial
profiling and how police interact with individuals experiencing
altered mental states, including people with mental illnesses.
There is unanimous support for increased training, higher
standards of behavior and greater accountability and transparency
at the Portland Police Bureau.
In general, Portlanders want the Police Bureau to shift
towards a collaborative, community-based policing approach.
They want a well-trained, ethnically diverse police force
that expertly handles difficult situations with a maximum
amount of diplomacy and a minimal amount of force. People
want Portland to be a city where the police are viewed with
respect and appreciation because they are partners in creating
a safe, healthy city for all. They envision a future in
which the relationship between police and community members
is characterized by trust and understanding.
- The current
approach to policing is not working and needs to change.
profiling is unacceptable and must be stopped.
- Portlanders want a police
force they can trust and respect.
- Police officers need support
and recognition for the good work they do.
current approach to policing is not working and
needs to change.
- The majority of respondents believe that the current
approach to policing not working. They cite the
following as evidence of this:
- Widespread fear of the police, even among
“law-abiding” residents who report feeling “terrified”
of a possible encounter with law enforcement;
- The perception that despite aggressive policing,
crime is actually on the rise;
- High-profile incidents of fatal police shootings,
especially of people suffering from mental illness
and drug addiction;
- Distrust of the police, especially among minority
- Some view the police as “too militaristic.”
- Many community members complain about what they
perceive as a “shoot first, ask questions later,”
approach by the police.
- People overwhelmingly want a shift towards a collaborative
approach that builds trust between police and the
- Portlanders believe that fatal police shootings
of unarmed minority community members, teenagers
on drugs and people with mental health problems
speaks to systemic concerns within the Police Bureau,
- Insufficient training on how to deal with
- Deep-rooted biases against people of color;
- Over-reliance on the use of force, including
tasers and guns; and
- A police force that does not partner with
the community as much as it should.
would like to see] a more thoughtful, intelligent,
well-trained police department who use diplomacy
skills to diffuse rather than incite difficult
police department needs to be reigned in. Just
because the police ‘went by the book’ and it resulted
in someone dying is not acceptable. Did it ever
occur to the Mayor and police department that
the ‘book’ needs to be changed? I think it’s unacceptable
for the police department to be killing so many
people. It makes me afraid to call them if I should
ever need help.”
drug dealing on the bus mall needs to stop—it’s
really not safe for bystanders. However, we need
to do it without police that are feared like a
death squad. Police…should be trustworthy to not
kill/maim citizens based on race or mental illness.”
the future], kids see the police as someone that
can help them.”
- “Teach the younger cops to be more people-oriented
- Require a thorough investigation and appropriate
consequences whenever an officer kills someone,
especially if that person was not hurting anyone.
- Institute higher standards for police officers
to ensure candidates are well-qualified for their
- Provide police with realistic, simulated training
to recognize mental illness and respond in non-violent
ways to the mentally ill.
- Police officers should undergo regular mental
health assessments to check for attitudes that lead
to abuse of power.
- Create an independent, community board to provide
oversight and hold the police accountable for their
profiling is unacceptable and must be stopped.
- There is a strong perception, especially by community members
living on the East side, that the Portland Police
routinely use racial profiling when making traffic
stops, and in other circumstances.
- Many Portlanders believe that racism is the underlying
cause for racial profiling in Portland. Portlanders
- Institutional racism within the Police Bureau
and other public agencies; and
- Individual officers, who may consciously or
unconsciously harbor racist feelings or beliefs;
- Portlanders overwhelmingly agree that people
of color should feel safe living in Portland and
should not have to fear police harassment, mistreatment,
- Some respondents believe that if people feel that
their government trusts and respects them, they
will be less likely to engage in harmful or criminal
- The vast majority of respondents agree that the
police, as public servants, should be prohibited from inappropriate reliance
on race as a factor in deciding to stop and/or search
would like to see] more police accountability,
especially on racial profiling and unnecessary
have to do a better job in the black community,
treating them with respect.”
profiling—police force needs help. Where there
are more people of color there are more cops…that
is a reality that needs to change. If I were a
person of color I wouldn’t feel safe.”
the future]…effective community policing fosters
stable neighborhoods where the citizens work collaboratively
within their community and with the police to
create a positive place to live/work/play without
the stressors of ethnic profiling…”
- “Investigate racist police and fire
- Racism needs to be discussed openly in Portland.
Only then can it start to be addressed.
- Police candidates should be carefully screened
for racist beliefs as part of the hiring process.
- “We can speed the dismantling of racism by giving
police better, regular cultural awareness and diversity
training…continuing education of police and citizens
and by a more bi-lingual and culturally diverse
- Community members from different races should
interact more and work creatively and cooperatively
on shared neighborhood concerns.
members want a police force they can trust and respect.
- Portlanders want a police force that works hand-in-hand
with the community to halt crime at its sources.
- They want patient, well-trained, diplomatic police
who are equipped to handle difficult situations
with minimal violence.
- Sweeping changes need to be made in order to regain
the public’s trust and maximize the effectiveness
of the police. These include:
- As we grow more diverse there must be constant
training in cultural competence. Training should
- Peaceful, non-violent de-escalation of conflict;
- Effective mediation practices;
- Awareness of cultural differences; and
- Hands-on practice in dealing effectively with
mental illness as well as those suffering from
altered mental states (such as drug addicts).
- A large number of Portlanders share the belief
that currently, police officers often are not held accountable
for their actions.
- Community members express frustration with officers
who ignore traffic rules and do not lead by example.
They want officers to:
- Respect traffic lights and stop signs;
- Obey speed limits when they are not pursuing
suspects or responding to an emergency call;
- Drive less recklessly in general.
- Respondents want police held accountable when
they use unnecessary, excessive force and when they
shoot unarmed community members.
- Many respondents call for independent citizen
oversight of the police bureau as a way to improve
accountability and gain back the public’s confidence.
- Portlanders want the police to cultivate relationships
in the community, getting to know neighborhood residents
and building trust one person at a time.
- Portlanders are strong advocates of community
policing, believing that the police are most effective
when they view community members as partners in
preventing crime (for more, see Public Safety: Community
- Respondents want to see the police working more
with children, teenagers and young adults to create
positive bonds of mutual trust and respect.
- Police need to do much more to cultivate mutual
trust and understanding within minority communities.
20 years] our police force is a model for improving
community/police relations (we have had no taser
or other deaths resulting from excessive force
or police brutality).”
would like to see] an improved police force that
can maintain public safety and be a role model
for the community.”
20 years] Portland will be a city where the police
are viewed with respect and appreciation because
they are partners in creating a healthy, strong
city where illegal drug use and crime are not
- “Have officers live in the areas they
patrol and know the inhabitants by name.”
- More minorities within the Police Bureau and better
training on minority cultures would help bridge
the divide between police and Portland’s minority
- “Police should be respectful of ‘weird culture’
and be more honest/honor the community we share.
This is Portland!”
- “More peaceful dialogue on creating openness
between the police department and citizens.”
officers need support and recognition for the good
work they do.
- A smaller number of respondents point to the
good work police officers do. These respondents
emphasized the following:
- Portland’s police are “ok” compared to other
- Portland has a female police chief and the
police force is improving; and
- Police officers work hard and deserve more
respect and better pay;
- A larger number of people speak positively about
the mounted police and the police on bikes. These
police seem accessible, friendly and more integrated
into the community than police who stay in their
I value is] they have domestic violence services
and shelters all over town so when you need them
they are available. Police services are pretty
“Police need to learn patience and diplomacy.
Hold the police accountable but don’t criticize
them until all the facts are known.”
- Use lottery money to fund additional
- Treat the police with respect and let them do
- Showcase the good work that our police and fire
departments do through effective public relations.