Employee Survey Shows Mike Schmidt Navigating Office Politics Among Prosecutors

Women were particularly disappointed with the office’s direction.

Multnomah County Justice Center. (Brian Burk)

An internal survey of employees at the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office shows hints of discontent, as attrition and rising caseloads have taken a toll on morale.

The survey asked respondents to rank whether they were satisfied with their job from 1 (the least satisfied) to 5 (the most satisfied). The average response was a 3.65.

But when asked about how “things are going in the MCDA,” the results were more concerning. All together, employees responded with an average score of 3.2. But female supervisors responded with an average of 2.73 and BIPOC female non-attorney staff gave the office, on average, a 2.95.

“We cannot improve if we don’t take a look at where we’re starting,” DA Mike Schmidt said in a statement. “The employee survey represents the first step in establishing that starting point so we know where we’re doing well and where we need to invest time and resources to improve; it is one piece of a larger set of equity reforms we are working on.”

He noted that he had hired an “equity manager,” a first for the office, who was tasked with assessing the office’s internal culture.

Schmidt has been a frequent target of political criticism as Portland, like many U.S. cities, experiences a rise in violent crime. But the survey results show that he’s also navigating office politics.

WW first requested the survey on Feb. 16. It was released to multiple media outlets today.

Multnomah County District Attorney's Office

Nearly 200 employees responded to the survey, and 80 left comments, some citing a lack of supportive management, low morale and a toxic workplace.

“The vast majority of ‘support’ I have received is lip service. Our managers do not lead by example,” wrote one employee.

“This office has traditionally punished people who rocked the boat or challenged the status quo and rewarded people who were able to say yes to everything. This has led us to where we are now, which is a culture that favors white men who are good at white-male dominated office politics and have more resources outside the office to allow them to work whatever hours are needed,” wrote another.

Others were more optimistic.

“I think the office is heading in the right direction overall. The fact we have an equity manager and we’re even doing this survey is a testament to the commitment from Mike to steer the office in the right direction,” said one employee.

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