PORTLAND, Ore. -- Last fall’s ominous prediction about the effect Portland’s police shortage could have on popular outdoor events is proving true, as several large-scale favorites prepare to scale back or change course this year.
The first one to put paired down plans into action is the 39th annual Shamrock Run, which this year will avoid Southwest Broadway, the Pearl District and several other areas rife with traffic lights.
Photos: 2017 Shamrock Run routes
“Some of the guys I train with are kind of upset,” said Jonathan Hutyan, who was training for the run Wednesday afternoon along Portland’s waterfront. “You're used to the terrain, you're used to the incline and all the turns. To switch it up… it kind of just messes with your flow.”
Photos: 2016 Shamrock Run routes
Race organizers say the reasoning behind the route changes is pretty cut-and-dry.
“We call it ‘policy 33,’” said Steve Hamilton, an organizer for the run. “It’s quite a drop.”
Hamilton is referring to a cap decided upon by Portland city officials in late 2016.
That’s when he says he received an email, stating all paid athletic events that required street-use in the city would only be allotted 33 Portland police officers.
Hamilton was surprised, adding event organizers pay for every police officer on site. The cost, city officials confirm, is between $80 and $100 per officer, per hour.
Officials confirmed last year that the Shamrock Run paid for 64 police officers. The Bridge Pedal paid for 75, and the Portland Marathon paid for 80.
PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera said Wednesday the police bureau just doesn’t have the bodies to staff controlled races to those levels anymore.
“It's something we're all coping with the best we can, and luckily a lot of these event organizers have been pretty understanding,” he said.
Rivera added, according to Oregon state law, any closed intersection must be manned by a law enforcement officer.
The city has also informed officers they cannot request reinforcements from outside police agencies, as those resources will be reserved for protests, emergencies and parades.
Hamilton said the city has been cooperative in all other planning respects but added he’d like to see politics get out of the way of Portland staples.
“Next year's the 40th anniversary,” he said of the Shamrock Run. “So it would be nice if we could be back to the traditional route for the 40th if we could.”
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