PORTLAND, Ore. – Mayor Charlie Hales says $56,000 for three-day diversity training at a Mount Hood resort was “money well spent.”
Hales, Portland Police Bureau Chief Mike Reese and 14 other top officials from the police bureau and other agencies spent Tuesday through Thursday of this week at The Resort at the Mountain for a diversity training seminar designed specifically for white male leaders.
Hales said it’s important for the police command, which is largely white males, to be able to understand and relate to the diverse communities they serve.
“Half of the school kids in Portland now are children of color. We work for a much more diverse city now than 20 years ago or even 10 years ago,” Hales said. “And the leadership of police bureau, particularly the white men, need to understand that community, need to understand the privileges we enjoy as white men – not through our own efforts, but just because of who we are.”
Hales defended the expense while speaking with Laural Porter during a taping of KGW’s Straight Talk. The full interview will air Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
The training was hosted by a firm called “White Men as Full Diversity Partners” and was held at The resort in Welches. A spokeswoman for Hales said each attendee spent at least 10 hours in training each day.
The $56,000 price tag works out to more than $1,000 per person, per day. Hales said he knew people would balk on the cost, but he argued that it was a good investment.
“It was money well spent in terms of employee development,” he said. “If you don’t develop your people in any organization, then the salary you pay them is not well spent. And I’m very happy that we did this.”
The police leadership was out of town as gang violence continued to plague the city. On Tuesday evening, a 5-year-old boy was shot in the leg when somebody fired toward the pool of the apartment complex where his grandparents live.
Hales at the time said he was “horrified and outraged” by the shooting, which was the 72nd gang-related violence incident in Portland so far this year.
We pressed Hales as to why the training had to be held offsite in a resort, when it could potentially have been held in town at a city office.
“The point of going away like that is there is always stuff happening like this. Frankly, if we had been in Portland this week those command officers would have felt like they had to go to the scene of the shooting,” Hales said. “We had people there, of course, in force. But we had to get away for a few days to focus on this issue. And that is the relationship between the Portland Police Bureau’s leadership and a much more diverse city that we now serve.”
You can watch more with Hales on Straight Talk, including questions about the street fee debate and the surge in gang violence. The show airs on KGW this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. or watch in later online at http://www.kgw.com/on-tv/straight-talk.