Report: Portland police needs to diversify its ranks

Police Chief Danielle Outlaw penned an open letter agreeing with the report’s findings

By PoliceOne Staff

PORTLAND, Ore. — At 83 percent white, Portland police are struggling to recruit minority officers, according to a report from the Portland Independent Police Review. 

Officials suggested the struggle may stem from lack of information, KATU reported.

“The bureau does not have data that helps them identify barriers to [minorities] getting hired,” director of the Independent Police Review Constantine Severe told KATU. 

When researchers tried to compare the bureau’s hiring practices with federal guidelines, they found they lacked sufficient information to do so. 

"The Bureau of Human Resources and the police bureau's personnel division, they need to have better communication on what the police bureau needs to identify and develop diverse candidates and what are possible limitations in sharing information," Severe said. 

The report made the following recommendations for Portland police officials: 

  • Engage with the Bureau of Human Resources to discuss how applicant data can be provided to meet racial equity goal
  • Purchase and create a database to track candidates through the hiring process
  • Create a data-informed review process to review the hiring process through an equity lens
  • Survey applicants to identify potential quality-related barriers

Police Chief Danielle Outlaw penned an open letter agreeing with the report’s findings and announced the department has been working on diversification efforts, KATU reported. 

While more minority officers would help community relations, numbers aren’t the problem, according to the president of Portland’s NAACP chapter. 

“African-Americans, or people period, see police as not black or white, they see them as part of the system, the occupation,” E.D. Mondaine told KATU. “They see them as blue.”

For Mondaine, positive change will come in the form of better training and policy reform. 

“To legislate in better training and policy changes and the sensitivity towards communities of color and culture, I think, would be a much better plan,” he said.

According to city data, Portland police have made some progress over the years. Almost a decade ago, the department consisted of 87 percent white officers; currently the department is 83 percent white.

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