Tonight I visited the Pleasant Valley Neighborhood Association (PVNA) to update folks there on the Office of Neighborhood Involvement budget process. I was mid-speech when Officer Robby Truong and his partner entered the Grange at SE 171st/Foster, and I yielded the floor immediately knowing often police officers visiting Neighborhood Association meetings are called away. What I heard was sobering. Officer Truong is working his 12th day straight, with no break in sight. One of his shifts was 18 hours long, in this stretch. He said that only 8 - 10 officers are patroling East Portland most shifts, down from 22 - 25, because so many are deployed keeping the peace with Occupy Portland marches and demonstrations. Sure enough, the two officers were paged to go downtown before the end of the meeting.
I am disturbed by many aspects of what I heard, and yet warmed by other considerations. The folks at the PVNA obviously appreciate Officer Truong a lot. They say if he has down time while patroling their neighborhood, he knocks on doors and makes friendly conversation, getting to know his community. It is troubling that the well-meaning protesters in the Occupy movement are taking resources away from residents in outer neighborhoods, and that there seems to be little recognition by some protesters that the taxpayers of Portland will be footing the bill for police coverage of protests, to keep the peace and maintain order. It is concerning that officers working while sleep-deprived are in stressful situations day after day, night after night. It is great that many citizens appreciate the patient peacekeeping the police have been providing.
Council heard during testimony regarding proposed changes to the Independent Police Review process this afternoon, that some protesters felt the use of horses and batons by police this past weekend was unnecessary use of excessive force. Most people on all sides want Portland to continue to be the model for the nation on non-violent protest and police protection of all. I am concerned that tired human beings have a tendency to be less patient. The protesters have had the opportunity to rest up since Sunday. The police officers haven't.
Citizens should be aware that there are fewer police officers available for 9-1-1 operators to dispatch to non-life-threatening events in neighborhoods such as non-injury traffic crashes. If your concern can wait until business hours, please hold off and call 823-4000 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.