Here I am putting on my opinion hat. This post is purely my opinion and nothing more. I am not going to (at this time) do any research on the subject. I simply want to rant a little.
I love Portland. I have found so many wonderful things here. And the city government is generally one of the better city governments I have ever come across, in all the places I have lived across the USA. The Portland city government is generally accessible. You can usually have good results working with almost any bureau. They work well with people, and most of the staffers that I have met genuinely care and take their jobs seriously. Almost everyone who is "in the trenches" really cares about the city and is working to make it better.
Even the elected officials tend to be pretty good. Sure, as with any elected government - there are SNAFUs like the stupid Cesar Chaves street rename BS and other crap... But that tends to happen anywhere you will have politicians pandering for votes...
But over all I am pretty well pleased with the City of Portland.
Except the Portland Police Bureau. They suck. Seriously.
Basically it seems like the PPB is a rogue office that operates under separate charter from the rest of the city. They seem to not have any interests but their own on their minds. And I am not being bitter - I have never really had any real run-ins with the PPB. But I read and I talk to lots of people. I try to be involved in lots of city things, for lack of elaborating.
It is well known that PPB likes to cite certain demographics for DWB (Driving While Black). While I have no actual concern about this particular violation, I know that it is indeed a common one in Portland. Additionally the PPB seems extremely anti pedestrian and anti bicycle. Which is strange in a city like Portland which is constantly ranked very high in the walking and biking worlds. The PPB seems to have no concept of applying resources to the problem which has the highest impact.
The PPB claims that they don't have the resources to investigate when a cyclist gets KILLED (as in DEAD) by a car, and the motorist is clearly at fault (two recent cases come to mind, and if you care to look them up contact me and I'll pass on the info). However, at the same time they will dedicate several officers to conduct bicycle "stings" around town. Come on, without debating the merits of any laws - lets just talk about resources in a constrained system. Hundreds of people are killed in Oregon each year by cars. Almost no one is killed in Oregon by pedestrians or bikes. But we see people pulling boneheaded moves in cars EVERY SINGLE DAY and PPB likes to write tickets to bicycles rolling through deserted stop-signs on closed roads.
Just the other day, I was downtown and at a block where there were no cars for at least three blocks in any direction. I crossed against the "walk signal" on a deserted street, and proceeded to get lectured for 5 minutes by a PPB officer about how he could have ticketed me - "for my own safety". As if I couldn't walk across the deserted street safely.
Again, lets not debate the actual law - that is for a legislative debate. Lets just talk about resource consumption.
There are only so many Police available in Portland. And we are regularly told how few resources they have and that they may have to cut this or that when the budget is tight. So why do the officers go after things that are of almost ZERO risk to society? Why is there not MASSIVE enforcement on 82nd or Powell which are the most dangerous streets in the city? They will like to have "enforcement actions" with 10 or 15 officers ticketing people speeding on the freeway - but ignore cut through traffic in neighborhoods or near schools. There are so many better ways that PPB could spend their efforts. It is all about bang for the buck...
Now don't get me wrong. I know that Police have difficult jobs, and I have often defended them when people slam on them. But more and more we keep hearing about how the PPB oversteps it's bounds. Beating mentally handicapped people to death, killing black people in North Portland for almost no reason, "bicycle stings" in residential neighborhoods. Come on - how many things do we need to see over and over? They love to harass bicycle messengers, yet they never seem to stop cars who just about run over people on the sidewalk as the drivers exit parking garages...
Oh well, I am just ranting. PPB loves their badges, and they love the power the badges give them. And the PPB is truly out of sync with what the City of Portland is all about. And it needs to change.