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Portland Police seek bike-riding volunteers to help with Grand Floral Parade

Posted by on May 14th, 2010 at 10:47 am

Mayor's entry into Grand Floral Parade-2

Last year, the Mayor and his
staff rode in the parade.
(Photo © J. Maus)

In a bid to save money, the Portland Police Bureau hopes to replace some of its sworn officers with volunteer bike riders in this year’s Grand Floral Parade.

Lieutenant John Brooks with the PPB’s East Precinct is in charge of the parade. He says they usually use about 266 officers to work the route, but this year he wants to cut that number to 80. To fill that gap and bolster efforts of bike cops, he hopes to find about 40 bike riding volunteers to step forward and help.

“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.”
— Lt. John Brooks, Portland Police Bureau

Lt. Brooks says it’s about “fiscal responsibility” and adds that citizen volunteers would be perfect for the job. “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.”

Here’s more from an email I got from Lt. Brooks:

“From the cycling community I am hoping for 40 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.”

In addition, Lt. Brooks says the people on bikes would also act as helpful hosts and answer questions about the event (stuff like “where’s the bathroom?”) from parade-goers.

I’ve always wanted to see more bikes in the Grand Floral Parade and this seems like an excellent step on many fronts. Or, as Lt. Brooks puts it, “It’s a great way to serve your community from the saddle of a bike.”

The parade is on June 12th and the PPB needs volunteers from about 8am to 2pm. If you’re interested, please contact Lt. Brooks at (503) 823-4829 or john[dot]brooks[at]portlandoregon[dot]gov.

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  • BURR May 14, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Does anyone else find it kind of ironic that the city is asking for cyclists to volunteer to replace cops and cork streets for a parade?

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  • Ethan May 14, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I wonder why they did not tap Portland’s Neighborhood Emergency Teams? The forgotten backwater in Sam’s portfolio.

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  • Spiffy May 14, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I’ll be out of state at the time so I’ll miss the entire thing…

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  • Velophile in Exile May 14, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Sounds like a great opportunity to assault, shoot, taser, and pepper spray people who you don’t like the looks of without any consequences. Count me in!!

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  • Matt May 14, 2010 at 11:30 am

    Re #2 – The NETs are not trained for traffic control. It’s not in their duties.

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  • wsbob May 14, 2010 at 11:35 am

    It sounds like it could be a cool idea. Wonder if the PD will be providing volunteers with some orientation or training. Especially on the heels of the troubles swirling around the PD related to the way it handles some citizens, this is could be a good thing.

    Burr, maybe you could explain in a little more detail, what it is you find ironic about a parade, issued permits by the city allowing the parade to be conducted with some semblance of organization and consideration for everyone; and that uses citizens on bikes, called upon by the city’s police department to help parade attendants understand where they can sit to watch the parade.

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  • Ethan May 14, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Re#5 NETs have a long history of working the parade, and while it is true the training in no way pertains to traffic control, that’s also true of random cyclists. They also already have all the safety equipment.

    Other jurisdictions’ CERTs (same as NET) do traffic control regularly as a “peacetime mission” for volunteers.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) May 14, 2010 at 11:45 am


    You should contact Lt. Brooks right away… maybe you could broker the NET/PPB partnership and kick it off with this event. I’ve found the PPB (and Mayor) to be very open to ideas like this.

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  • RC May 14, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I’m surprised at the negativity of some of the comments here. I think it’s a great idea and would sign up except I’m already volunteering elsewhere that day.

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  • Ethan May 14, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Left a message. I will be out of town on a shoot that weekend, otherwise I would try to spearhead something. POEM is one of the Sam’s departments (the only one truly reserved only for the mayor).

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  • Jeff TB May 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I also think this is a cool idea. But I also understand Burr’s statement on the matter. It’s interesting that the PPD would approach riders for help…when many riders don’t have faith that the PPD is doing what it can to protect cyclists where we need help.

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  • beth h May 14, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    I like the idea so much that I have sent an email of inquiry to Lt. Brooks. I don’t see it as a negative at all, especially when there’s a GOLDEN opportunity for police and regular bicyclists to do something positive TOGETHER, and perhaps gain some new appreciation of each other in the process.
    Thanks for posting this, Jonathan.

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  • anon May 14, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    sounds like a cool idea. Bridging the gap between cyclists and the city is always a good thing.

    that said, im not sure how being a cyclist comes into play here? would you just be circling your 6 block zone telling people where to sit? Not riding in the parade itself though? a bit confused.

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  • beth h May 14, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Update: I just had a nice chat with Lt. Brooks (who responded to my email within minutes of my sending!).
    There will be a briefing in advance of the actual parade, details TBA.
    And yes, folks will be assigned short sections of the parade route (no more than several blocks long) to be of assistance in letting folks know where to sit and perhaps where the closest restrooms might be (always good info to have at a parade).

    (As for the irony that Burr expressed I suspect it has to do with the Critical mass ride practice of corking intersections, which stopped auto traffic and annoyed motorists and police alike back in the day. And yes, I find it mildly ironic, but in an amusing way.)

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  • BURR May 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Jeff #11, to the contrary, this will probably just give the line officers more reason to resent cyclists, since these volunteers will be taking overtime hours away from PPB officers.

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  • Marina May 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I just volunteered. I choose to look at the positive side of this opportunity to assist the police & general public.

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  • trail user May 14, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    This is why I own riot gear. Email sent!

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  • wsbob May 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Beth, nice work on getting additional details on the work, and Marina for signing up.

    Citizens substituting for parade monitor work that would otherwise be performed by highly paid sworn officers, is helping to keep the bureau budget balanced without laying off officers.

    There is likely plenty of other situations in the city where officer overtime hours could be more productively spent, to which many officers would probably prefer checking on rather than standing around along the parade route.

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  • q`Tzal May 15, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I was not here for the Critical Mass attacks or any of the other direct assaults on cyclists by the PPD.

    I accept that rightly there is some animosity by individual cyclists towards the police in general.
    We should expect that there is, rightly, some animosity by individual police towards cyclists in general.
    These generalizations have evolved in to a hatred that could permanently harm any hope of positive relations between the police and cycling communities.
    It says something that the police are reaching out in a spirit of cooperation.

    As for the overtime issue: the PPD, and pretty much every tax district in the US, have known since about November 2008 that there were going to be MAJOR cuts to budgets. From a basic labor accounting stand point the first thing eliminate is overtime. Any police that blame cyclists for taking their overtime by this point already blame cyclists for every social ill.
    And sunspots too.

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  • joe adamski May 15, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    What would the Police Union say? Scabs taking union jobs? Outsoucing family wage jobs to folks with no credentials? Is this all part of Walmart Nation, the race to the bottom?
    In all honesty, they would have a valid point.

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  • Marcus Griffith May 15, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    How does the Portland Police union feel about the city seeking to replace union work with non-union volunteers?

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  • BURR May 15, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    It says something that the police are reaching out in a spirit of cooperation.

    Bureau management is ‘reaching out’, and you can bet that the rank and file officers see it differently.

    I would expect that this will be on their minds this summer when they set up their stop sign stings just for cyclists in Ladd’s Addition and other places around the city.

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  • wsbob May 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    “How does the Portland Police union feel about the city seeking to replace union work with non-union volunteers?” Marcus Griffith #21

    Some of you people must be joking… . Just in case you’re not…Marcus…if you’re really interested in the answer to that question, call up the Police Union first thing Monday and ask someone there exactly how the union feels about this. Report back here and let everyone know what you find out.

    Might even be easier to call or email Lt. Brooks, as Beth H., comment #14 mentions she did…and got an email back soon.

    According to past bikeportland news stories written by Jonathan Maus…editor of bikeportland, Burr’s comment #22, last paragraph, does not represent what actually happened. In the stop sign enforcement details he refers to as ‘stings’, police stopped and cited both motor vehicle and bike operators that failed to stop for stop signs.

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  • BURR May 16, 2010 at 9:59 am

    wsbob # 23 – keep on living in your fantasy world

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  • Steve B. May 16, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    While I’ve had both positive and negative interactions with Portland police, I try to approach every new experience with an open mind.

    There is no make-believe class warfare here between so called “cyclists” and PPB. It’s people interacting with other people. Many police ride bikes too, I would avoid putting anyone into a category. Avod assumptions, just ride and be positive!

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  • PoPo May 16, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks, folks, for your thoughtful responses to this effort.

    While I am a member of the union, I don’t speak for the union. And I would encourage anyone who really cares about what the union thinks on the parade issue to call them and ask: (503) 225-9760. However I suspect that they really don’t care, and I suspect most cops don’t care either.

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  • PoPo May 16, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Particularly appreciate wsbob’s perspective in this thread. Generally right on.

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  • are May 17, 2010 at 8:27 am

    re comment 24, the way i remember it, yes, the neighbors asked police to sting cyclists rolling the stop onto ladd’s circle, but what the police actually did was to stop everyone — cyclists and motorists alike — who rolled the stop. they may have ticketed more cyclists than motorists, but that just tells you who rolled the stop on that particular occasion.

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  • Kt May 17, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Wait a sec– doesn’t most of the Rose Festival activities use volunteers in all sorts of positions?

    I’ve worked traffic control at other (non-Rose Festival) events. The police didn’t seem to care one way or the other– in fact, they probably liked the fact that they didn’t have to stand around in the hot sun on hot tarmac all day and direct people. That way, it frees them up to do the job everyone expects them to do.

    I’m surprised more of you haven’t looked at it that way, considering how often you (and you know who you are) complain that the PPD isn’t out catching criminals when they run their stop sign stings.

    It’s a call for volunteers. Stop whining already.

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  • Marcus Griffith May 17, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    In case anyone has slept though recorded history; the Portland Police Union has significant weight to throw around. Understanding the union position on anything to do with bike matters is advisable.

    I am sure many, if not most, Portland police officers have better things to do than to patrol a parade route. However, many, if not most Portland police officers would not shoot a 12-year old girl with a beanbag–but it didn’t stop them from rallying around each other when someone cried foul.

    What’s to stop a Portland officer from filing an union grievance for not getting the overtime he or she suddenly feels entitled to after the parade?

    Beat unarmed man to death…check
    Tazer an innocent bystander for videotaping…check
    File grievance the city for wanting to hold city-union negotiations in a public manner..also check.

    Anyone want to put their name that the Portland Police union would not endorse a complaint filed for loss of union work? Law enforcement staff may have a difficult job that they do well every day, but the Portland Police Union has a track record fighting to keep Blackwater’s worst as Portland’s finest.

    But, than I guess some regular’s on this blog think maintaining situational awareness is just mere whining..

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  • wsbob May 18, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Marcus…you’re creating the impression that you didn’t happen to get around to phoning the police union for its position on some of the points you raised in questions from your earlier comment.

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  • BURR May 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

    well, wsbob, have you called the police union yourself in regards to their position on this? If so, please do report back to us what they told you. If not, STFU.

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  • Marcus Griffith May 18, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    “wsbob”: what an union rep says about the request for volunteers has no binding effect of what an union member may do after the parade.
    If the union can see fit to defend and support the beating death of an armed man (who was committing no crime); do you really think the union would hesitate to support a grievance filed after the parade?

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  • wsbob May 18, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    “…do you really think the union would hesitate to support a grievance filed after the parade? Marcus #33

    Marcus…I don’t think that was the question you were originally asking. Here’s what you asked in comment #21:

    “How does the Portland Police union feel about the city seeking to replace union work with non-union volunteers?” Marcus Griffith #21

    That’s the question I thought you might consider calling and asking the union about. I don’t see the point in thinking much about the connection you’re trying to draw until you can factually say that one exists.

    I think the premise, which I think you’re saying is…some cop thinking ‘man, I’m ticked about not getting parade duty this year, and all that wonderful overtime that goes with it! #@^%..I’m filing a grievance with my union rep!’ …is just nuts..but maybe it’s only me thinking so.

    Burr…watch your language. It’s not me that has an irrepressible need to have Marcus’s question answered. It’s Marcus himself that seems to have that need. If he wants the answer, he can do the work and get it himself.

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  • BURR May 18, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    wsbob, you can quit with the passive-aggressive BS anytime, you may think it’s cute but it’s not really that becoming.

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