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Thursday, June 3, 2010

New twist on an old parade

An alert reader down in the Old Town-Chinatown section of Portland forwarded this e-mail message that he received the other night:

From: Brooks, John
Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 7:32 PM
Subject: Grand Floral Parade

All --

I am a Portland Police Lieutenant in charge of the Grand Floral Parade this year. I am trying something very different this year by decreasing the number of sworn police officers working the parade from 266 to about 80. In order to accomplish this, I am looking to replace a number of positions previously filled by officers with citizen volunteers from the community. I am needing 30 volunteer cyclists who I could break up into groups of three citizens and one police officer (on a bike) to help with a section of the parade route. This cadre of four would have the responsibility for a 6 block section and would help spectators understand where they can sit and where they can't. Also, help with frequently asked questions like where is a bathroom?, Where is a Starbucks?, etc. For bike duty I am leaning toward 18 and older to help along the parade route. I am looking for people who interact well with others.

The parade is June 12th and we are generally out there from 8am to 2pm. I will be taking good care of all our volunteers.

The other part is the fiscal responsibility piece. The parade is a nice event. There is no reason to pay sworn police officers straight time and/or overtime for an event that does not require that degree of qualification. Hence the reason we are making this shift in how we do things.

If you are over 18, have a bike and helmet, and would like to serve the community in a fun way. I encourage you to get in touch with me. I would appreciate hearing from you.

If you have questions, my cell number is (503) 793-8353.


Lt. John Brooks
Portland Police Bureau
East Precinct
737 SE 106th Ave
Portland, OR 97216
(503) 823-4829

This reminds me of how things used to get done in these parts. Here's hoping that it works out well.

Comments (17)

Seems to make perfect sense to me. Let's see how SamRand can screw up this glimmer of fiscal sanity.

So . . . should we be happy about this, because it's fiscally responsible? Or should we be lamenting it, because it means the city can't afford adequate police coverage for its signature event?


This is the kind of leadership this city needs badly.


Or should we be lamenting it, because it means the city can't afford adequate police coverage for its signature event?

Is PDX really that dangerous that it needs 266 armed guards to protect it. I would have thought it would be hailed as a way to keep the citizens of Portlandia safe from those crazy PPB "killers" y'all keep screaming about.

Common Sense 1) The sense of logical reasoning and problem solving skills as applied to practical situations that all intelligent beings should and usually do have. Like a sunny day in May, it should be celebrated.

"This cadre of four would have the responsibility for a 6 block section and would help spectators understand where they can sit and where they can't."

This is the part that worries me. Portlanders watching this parade tend to have entitlement issues when jockeying for sidewalk territory.

I'm assuming that these 'community volunteers' will get some rudimentary training as how to handle 'entitlement issues' and where teams of the 80 sworn officers prepared to move to defuse conflict arising from such.

I can dream, can't I?

Great idea. Bummer about the late start, though.

Let's hope the volunteers all have concealed handgun permits.

Eric's comment: So . . . should we be happy about this, because it's fiscally responsible? Or should we be lamenting it, because it means the city can't afford adequate police coverage for its signature event?

We should be lamenting because we cannot afford adequate police protection for this significant event. Citizen involvement is good and there is already much of that going on, but this needs to looked at more carefully.

It appears that as a result of the city and budget problems more and more citizens are being asked to do more volunteer work and some of that work is putting citizens at risk. An example of this is that in an area of East Portland where crime and problems are evident on the Max, citizens were asked by a state representative to wear some vests and to patrol these light rail areas.

I understand the police budget may be a problem, and that is a problem when we have a council with no serious concern about money when it comes to their pet projects.

Young people on bikes may be confronted by some in the parade who may make trouble for them by not moving back or whatever needs to be done for an orderly parade. There is also some antagonism as a result of favoritism by the Mayor for bike perks that could bring about potential problems. What happens if one of these “volunteers” is hurt while being a “police helper”?

I am sorry, but I do not see that this is a good thing. Apparently a need existed for 266 prior to this, so why such a reduction to 80? The police may not say anything as they have to follow command, but one wonders if this is a good idea. Next thing you know these “bikers” may be in training for on going events, of course for less pay and less training for such responsibility. Does a letter sent out on May 31st provide adequate time for selecting candidates and then training for the June 12th parade? How would these "bicyclists" be identified?

Another thought - The Mayor gets to parade around how important his agenda of bicycles is here as they are positioned as "police helpers" now. “We are a progressive bike city!”

There are way too many unanswered questions here. This just sounds like another bad judgment by the Mayor.

I'm just worried what will become of the "savings". All those famous "SAVINGS"!

Please put it back into the General Fund or at least the Police Bureau budget.

"For bike duty I am leaning toward 18 and older to help along the parade route. I am looking for people who interact well with others."

I am over 18 yrs and have a bike.

Can I be assigned to work with Officers Humphreys or Nice? I would love to 'interact well' ala those two, maybe find some bum who just took a piss somewhere.

Or better yet, put me with Officer Westerman. I would love to shout down any Prius owners or other people I deem pricks. Nothing like yelling and screaming at some old people. And then riding away on my thrifty bicycle.

If the data truly show we're paying too many extra cops too much overtime to give people directions to the Porta-Potties, then yes, I'll laud this as a creative way to save money and engage volunteers.

But the lieutenant's letter makes it sound like the volunteers would help with some crowd control, which is straying into some dangerous territory from a safety and liability standpoint. I really hope the City Attorney has reviewed and signed off on this. It's one thing to ask citizens to volunteer to lock up the chairs and pick up the poodle poop in that new SoWhat park (but how come we need such volunteer labor to deliver city services but can afford streetcars and an empty piece of land for a "staging site" . . . sorry, I digress). Enforcing public order is an entirely different ball of wax and should left to sworn law officers or at least some semi-trained rent-a-cops.

Going from 266 to 80 officers is a drastic drop; why not cut back gradually over several years and see how it goes? That steep cut and the last-minute nature of this request for volunteers -- how can they have time to adequately vet and train them? -- is very troubling, at least to me.

I'm surprised no has mentioned the matter of liability. Who is liable if the volunteer gets injured? Who is liable if a parade viewer gets injured by a volunteer?

Granted, the matter could be waved off as a sign of an over-litigious culture.

Just a thought...


Isn't there something in the police union contract about replacing sworn officers with non-union employees? I seem to remember the city getting in trouble for using volunteers to do Parks employees work.

Great, all we need are deputized hipsters...
Will they at least shower first?

Just wait until one of the volunteers gets hurt and sues the city.....


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