PORTLAND, Ore. — An “unprecedented” number of police officers in Portland are leaving midcareer, opting to forego service time toward their retirement and take lower-paying jobs in smaller towns, citing poor working conditions in Oregon’s largest city, according to a recent report.
Portland Assistant Chief Michael Frome, who oversees the bureau’s human resources department, told the Portland Tribune that 14 officers have filed papers to retire by January, nine have resigned since November, and seven have filed to resign within the next few weeks. He explained the number of resignations may be even greater, as records requests from other police departments suggest “we have around 25 people that may be in the process of trying to get hired in other places.”
“This is unprecedented,” Frome told the Tribune. “We really have not seen this many people leaving at this stage in their career… They’re leaving because they just don’t enjoy working here anymore.”
In the past, officers in smaller towns like Beaverton, Bend, Hillsboro, Tigard and Boise, Idaho, would come to larger cities like Portland seeking better pay. But the trend seems to have reversed. Boise Police Chief Ryan Lee, who formerly worked as assistant chief for the Portland Police Bureau, told the Tribune that he recently hired four police officers away from his old department.
“Salaries in Boise are lower than salaries in Portland and the officers coming to Boise will be taking a cut in pay,” Boise Police Department spokesman Haley Williams confirmed.
Portland Chief Chuck Lovell recently announced that all K9 handlers, as well as the majority of traffic officers, will be moved to respond to 911 calls. The change comes after months of nearly constant demonstrations in Portland since the custodial death of George Floyd, Fox reported.
“For a lot of these people that are choosing to go somewhere else, they spent a lot of months this last summer constantly being yelled at to ‘Quit your job, quit your job,'” Frome said. “That cumulative toll on our officers, it builds up. So in some ways, yes, there is a win by those that would want the police to be defunded.”