BEND, OR -- After years of struggling to hire enough officers for every patrol shift, Bend Police Jim Porter says his department is now near-full staffing, "We’re happy to say, after four years, we’re at 99% staffing." He tells KBND News, "That give us the ability to fill in when somebody’s injured, when one of my three officers is gone on long-term military leave, we’re able to immediately plug people into that. And, it’s enabled us to staff what we call our community response team. That’s the mental health team, to get out there with all three officers." He says 100% staffing isn't a realistic goal, given the natural turnover in law enforcement.
Chief Porter says the recruits are already paying dividends, "We’re seeing amazing differences in some of the benchmarks that we measure our department’s effectiveness by." He says at the end of last year, prior to bringing on the new officers, emergency calls were up 15%, "The officer-initiated calls were actually down about 4%, so that means the officers weren’t able to be pro-active, to get out of their car and deter crime. Since we’ve brought our staffing up, our latest numbers show the emergency 911 calls are down 3%; the officer-initiated calls are up 15%; and that’s what you’d expect to happen. When the officers have more time to get out of their cars, deter crime, you’ll see the emergencies go down."
Porter credits the City Council for approving necessary funding, and efforts by his own staff, "We challenged our officers – men and women – to go out and recruit people they think will work within our culture who would serve the people of Bend the way they wanted. We also, then, turned around and offered some pretty good incentives to move here, to offset the cost of housing in this area. And, we changed the way we address our officers’ health and wellness inside the department, and that’s where we’re seeing the big draw come from."
To listen to our full conversation with Bend Police Chief Jim Porter, visit our Podcast Page or click HERE.