PORTLAND, Ore. — The once-prestigious positions on the Portland Police Bureau’s Gun Violence Reduction Team are now considered less desirable due to the added scrutiny that comes with the role. As a result, the department is struggling to find officers willing to serve on its newly resurrected unit, which was dismantled last year.
Homicides have surged since the unit was disbanded in the summer of 2020 after the Portland City Council voted last year to slash PBB’s budget by $15 million. Yet with gun violence spiking in the city, Mayor Ted Wheeler proposed a new unit in March renamed the “Focused Initiative Team,” Fox News reported.
Only four police officers have applied for 14 open positions, thus far, and none have been assigned, according to the The Wall Street Journal.
Uncertainty around the new role, which includes it’s own citizen advisory board, has made applicants hesitant, to say the least. Moreover, since they’ve been accused of racial profiling in the past, new job qualifications for the unit include the “ability to identify and dismantle institutional and systemic racism in the bureau’s responses to gun violence.”
“They’re demonizing and vilifying you, and then they want to put you in a unit where you’re under an even bigger microscope,” Daryl Turner, leader of the Portland Police Association, a union representing rank-and-file officers, told the Journal.