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Portland reaches tentative contract with police union

The union and the city have been in negotiations since February 2020. The new four-year contract was reached through a mediation process.
Credit: KGW

PORTLAND, Ore. — The city of Portland and the Portland Police Association (PPA), the union that represents rank-and-file Portland officers, have reached a new tentative four-year contract through a mediation process.

The city and the union have been negotiating since February 2020, initially in person and later via Zoom once the COVID-19 pandemic began. In a press release Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Ted Wheeler said the process emphasized public input and accessibility through a dedicated website.

Major points of the contract include a new discipline guide as well as "targeted premium pays" focused on education and training, Wheeler said, plus incentives to recruit and retain police.

“I want to thank both sides of this labor negotiation for the difficult work they put in to bring this contract to a close," Wheeler said in a statement. "It is important to me that we are able to attract and keep quality police officers and that we have a discipline guide that ensures our officers are held accountable for their actions."

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The contract integrates Portland Street Response, Wheeler noted, the program that sends crisis counselors and paramedics rather than armed police to non-violent calls involving mental health and addiction. The city launched a pilot version of the program last year and plans to expand it citywide in the coming months.

The contract also paves the way for the implementation of a body-worn camera program for Portland police, another major initiative that elected officials have sought in recent years.

In a news release on Tuesday, the PPA said its focus during bargaining was on recruitment and retention.

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“As we look to recruit and retain police officers in Portland, we must continue to attract the very best applicants by offering a highly competitive pay structure to encourage quality candidates, providing leading-edge training, and incentivizing and recognizing the hard work our officers do,” PPA President Sgt. Aaron Schmautz said in a statement.

The contract will go to the union's membership for a ratification vote on Wednesday, according to the PPA news release, and the city will hold a virtual education session on Thursday, with a city council hearing scheduled for Feb. 16 and a final council vote tentatively planned for Feb. 24.

Portland city commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty released a statement Tuesday afternoon touting the expansion of Portland Street Response and a new discipline guide for police misconduct.

"While no single contract negotiation will bring about all the changes I personally would like to see, I’m proud that my office’s deep engagement led to a better process and outcomes," she said in a statement.

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