But this week, Reese has left his office on the 15th floor of the Justice Center to ride around downtown, filling three consecutive day-shift patrols to reduce overtime costs. Each time this week, he’s taken a lieutenant with him.
On Tuesday, the chief tweeted a message from his police car: “Working patrol today in downtown with Lt. (Jim) Dakin.”
Just before 3 p.m. on Wednesday, the chief, riding with Lt. Mike Marshman, tweeted his latest assignment: “Received a call at 10th and Yamhill on an overdose. Assisted medical.”
And Thursday, he’s scheduled to fill another day shift downtown.
Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson said the chief is on patrol this week “to reduce backfill overtime,” meaning he’s working patrol shifts to avoid bringing an off-duty officer in on overtime pay to fill vacant shifts.
There have been shifts left open this week because officers have been sent for additional training as part of the bureau’s new Enhanced Crisis Intervention Team. Under pressure from federal investigators to improve officers’ response to calls involving people with mental illness, the bureau has returned to having a specialized team of officers to be the go-to cops called out to such crisis calls.
About 50 officers were selected for the team and are receiving an additional 40 hours of training this month.
The police bureau budgeted $7.8 million for overtime this fiscal year. As of February, the bureau spent $5. 8 million and is projected to spend $8.6 million by June 30. The mayor and two commissioners who studied the bureau’s overtime spending have recommended the Police Bureau, among other bureaus, take immediate steps to reduce its overtime costs.
The commissioners suggested the Portland police place tighter controls on overtime; move officers from specialty units to fill gaps in patrol; appoint command staff who don’t earn overtime to take on public information duties on nights and weekends; limit the number of officers that prosecutors subpoena to appear in court on pending cases and assign someone to manage overtime.
Looks like Chief Reese has taken the message to heart.
“The mayor appreciates that the chief is stepping in,” said Dana Haynes, the mayor’s spokesman.
Asked if Reese is continuing to technically serve as chief or has appointed one of his assistant chiefs as acting chief while he’s handling emergency calls, Simpson simply said: “Still the Chief.”