Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on March 19th, 2010 at 8:57 am
Back in January, we reported that in order to save $585,000, the Portland Police bureau was considering a transfer of their horse-mounted units to bike patrol. The idea is to shut down the Mounted Patrol Unit (MPU) and redeploy four formerly horse-mounted officers to work bike patrol in Central Precinct (downtown).
Last week, the City of Portland’s Financial Planning Division (FPD) released analysis of that proposal and recommended the elimination of the Mounted Patrol Unit, but they do not recommend the transfer of those officers to bike patrol.
While the budget office acknowledged that the horse-mounted officers have, “value as a community policing and crowd control tool,” they added that they, “appear to be less important to bureau operations than most other specialty units.” According to the budget office the MPU was rated 25 out of 36 programs on the core mission scale and second to last on the “community importance scale.”
So, why not have those officers just trade a horse saddle for a bike saddle? $308,000. That’s how much the Police Bureau would save by not redeploying them as bike patrol officers. Instead of four new bike mounted officers, the FPD recommends that the $308,000 in savings goes toward filling the “tow revenue gap” (I’ve got an email into the police bureau to find out what that is).
Understanding the value of bike officers (the Police Chief honored their “immeasurable impact” to the community back in 2007), the FPD says they make the recommendation “with some misgivings” because:
“… the establishment of routine bike patrols in downtown and Old Town would mitigate some of the community policing impacts of losing the MPU. However, some opportunities must be foregone in times of financial hardship and the bureau simply cannot operate without some action to restore its materials & service budget to a sustainable level.”
These recommendations will be forwarded to the Mayor and City Council, where the final budget decisions will be made. Learn more about the budget process (it’s going on now!) on the City’s Community Budget website.