Portland police union files initiative petitions


Portland’s police union, Portland Police Association (PPA) has filed two prospective city initiative petitions for the November 2024 election. 

The first, submitted Feb. 7, directs city council to create a 24-hour drug and alcohol detoxification drop-off center, increase and maintain the number of sworn officers by an unspecified amount, and “increase and maintain street response services.” 

But on March 5, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a legal challenge to that petition, saying the language directing the council to “increase and maintain street response services” is intentionally misleading. An existing program called Portland Street Response sends unarmed teams of paramedics and mental health workers to help people on the streets when they’re in a mental health crisis, but PPA’s initiative spells out “street response services” that “include trained social workers working with sworn police officers and fire medical personnel to reduce violent interactions and connect people in need with social services.” In a separate filing, ACLU says the petition is unconstitutional because it pertains to multiple items. 

PPA’s second initiative petition, filed Feb. 20, would modify the police oversight board voters approved in 2020, overturning key features of a measure that passed by 82%.

Following passage of the 2020 measure, Portland City Council finalized the oversight board’s structure in November 2023, and it’s supposed to launch in 2025. The board will consist of 21 members. It will investigate complaints of police misconduct and impose discipline. The board would be funded with 5% of the police bureau’s operating budget, and its members can’t be current or former law enforcement officers, or immediate family of officers. 

PPA’s initiative petition would eliminate the 5% budget requirement and the restriction that board members have no direct ties to law enforcement. It would also prohibit the board from imposing discipline, instead shifting that responsibility to the police chief. All of those were features of the measure voters approved in 2020. 


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