Fund The Police? Portland Unrest Leads To Record Overtime For More Than A Dozen Cops

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PORTLAND OR - SEPTEMBER 6: A Portland police officer stands guard in front of the North police precinct during a protest against racial injustice and police brutality on September 6, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Sunday marked the 101st consecutive night of protests in Portland. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Portland protesters’ efforts to defund the Portland Police Department may have inadvertently pushed salaries for at least a dozen Portland cops over $200,000 according to a report for Oregon Live.

Portland police officers, the outlet notes, have been logging record overtime hours as unrest, first in the city’s downtown and now in the more residential, further reaches of Portland. Efforts to control the demonstrations, centered around defunding local law enforcement — many of which ultimately turn into riots — have led the department to pay out more than $4 million in overtime pay.

“At least 15 Portland police employees made more than $200,000 last fiscal year, largely due to overtime pay, according to a report on Sunday,” per Fox News, citing the Oregonian, which sent the Freedom of Information Act request that revealed the sudden hike in salaries.

An initial request for records covering Portland’s 2019-2020 fiscal year turned up little evidence of additional officer pay. “This June, however, there were more than four million in overtime pay, which was the single highest month recorded in recent memory,” the Oregonian found. “Portland also saw protests during the summer of 2019, which was another factor in the overtime pay, as well as an increase in shootings and lack of officers.”

“There’s a lot of people working a lot of hours because there’s just a lot of work to be done, and we’re limited on the number of cops we have,” one sergeant told the paper.

Most of the bureau’s 1200 employees received some type of bonus pay and, in some cases, the bump was significant. Top brass mostly made over $200,000 per year, the FOIA request revealed, but “[e]ight sergeants and two officers were in the top of 10 highest overtime earners, according to The Oregonian. Sergeants earned an average of $24,943 in overtime, followed by detectives, who averaged $20,369. Rank-and-file officers averaged $13,239 in overtime.”

That means, of course, that efforts to “defund the police,” the central theme of Portland’s nightly unrest, are actually adding to the cost of policing Portland, making law enforcement efforts more expensive — and, perhaps, more necessary.

The Portland Police Association’s president, Officer Daryl Turner explained that city officials’ reluctance to hire more police officers has led directly to the spike in overtime: “The city’s elected officials have continued to ignore our staffing needs, resulting in the large amounts of overtime. That’s the cost of keeping our city safe.”

The unrest in portland is now entering its sixth month and shows no signs of letting up. According to Fox News, a “day of rage” event designed to mark Columbus Day, produced some of the most violent incidents in months, with “anti-fascist” rioters toppling several statues in downtown Portland, lobbing homemade explosive devices at buildings and, in one case, setting fire to the Oregon Historical Society and stealing one of the museum’s priceless artifacts.

Portland police also say they are preparing for unrest in the days and weeks following the presidential election, regardless of the outcome.

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