A Police Officer Says Portlanders Still Won’t Tell Cops “We Need You”

Is a little gratitude the secret to filling a gap in sworn positions?

“While the defund movement is kind of over, people haven’t really vocally come back and said, ‘You’re right, we need you.’ They’re happy to have us here and they’re not complaining that we’re here, but they’re not actively saying, ‘We need you.’

“And we need the community to say they want us to be like [we used to be] again.”

—Portland Police Officer Jordan Zaitz, in a June 16 interview with the Northwest Labor Press.

Zaitz, who works in the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct, bemoaned what she described as a lack of consequences for drug crimes and staffing shortages that hamstring police response. City officials regularly say Portland needs more officers—most recently, mayoral aide Sam Adams said as much to The Oregonian on June 25 while examining political vandalism on Northeast Sandy Boulevard.

But Portland has struggled to recruit new officers. This spring, the City Budget Office noted in documents that the Police Bureau lost 90 filled officer positions between 2018 and 2022, and hadn’t hired a single officer in 2021. “The reduction in filled sworn positions during this period is the result of attrition and the lack of hiring,” the budget office wrote. Zaitz’s remarks offer a window into the mindset that may be hindering recruitment.