June 10th, 2009 | by JAMES PITKIN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP

Chaos in Copland: The Precinct Move, Day 1

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After a confusion-filled Day 1 of the Portland Police Bureau's precinct consolidation on Tuesday, here's hoping Day 2 goes more smoothly.

Cops at Central Precinct, East Precinct and North Precinct (formerly Northeast) describe a sometimes-disorderly move that initially left some officers with no patrol cars, nowhere to put their rifles and nowhere to park their own vehicles.

"The first day was a little bit chaotic," says Sgt. Scott Westerman, head of the police union. "The reality is that any time you do something this large, there's going to be some events."

In a budget-cutting move, the Police Bureau is consolidating what were formerly five precincts into three. The old Southeast Precinct will now house the Traffic Division, and the old North Precinct is now home to the Training Division.

Several officers told WW that troubles on Tuesday were most acute at Central Precinct. Cops there have long complained about a lack of parking for their own vehicles. Those troubles were compounded Tuesday when officers from Southeast Precinct arrived.

With every reserved space assigned and metered spots in the surrounding downtown streets clogged with cops' private vehicles, some officers wondered where citizens would park when they came to report a crime or do business at Central. And all-precinct staff meetings will make matters even worse for parking.

On top of that, patrol cars were still being shuttled from the old Southeast Precinct at the start of the day, leaving a lack of cars for officers reporting to work. Once the extra cars arrived, there was nowhere to park them because the garage was full.

A shortage of cubicles and lockers completed the circus atmosphere.

Meanwhile at the new North Precinct, a lack of lockers meant some officers with rifles were told to take their weapons home. At East Precinct, locker space was tight. And officers were told to park at Floyd Light Middle School in a temporary arrangement. Some officers have taken to using the parking lot of the neighborhood center across the street.

Despite the first-day hiccups, Westerman says he's reserving his judgment on how smoothly management executes the move.

"My personal opinion is, I think the impacts were underestimated," he says. "But we'll see."
 
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