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Portland city council votes to increase security spending amid rise in crime

Portland city council votes to increase security spending amid rise in crime

Portland city council votes to increase security spending amid rise in crime

PORTLAND, Ore. – Concerns of losses to theft and property destruction prompted the Portland City Council to move up a vote this week.

Agenda item 739 called for the amending of the city’s contract with Allied Universal Security Services to increase the amount paid for security officer services by a total of $4,297,809 USD. “This as the mayor was saying is an increase due to (sic) remain competitive for our officer’s pay rate, but also a big chunk of it has to do with an increase an increase of service requests from the different bureaus,” said Manny Paris, Security Manager in the Office of Management and Finances. “We’ve had issues with thefts, we had issues with vandalism and break-ins.”

This agenda item followed a previous agenda item where the council accepted the annual Portland Police Bureau report that concluded that the city was understaffed to fight rising crime in the west coast city following the departure of several officers in 2021.

Commissioner Mingus Mapps inquired if the city had any way to track just how much money the city was losing to criminal activity with those cases of theft and vandalism and Paris confirmed that a security incident form had been put into place at the start of the year and they hoped to gather valuable data in that regard. In terms of scale however he told Mapps that his estimate was over a million dollars for the year so far between the various bureaus. “This has to do with catalytic converters, stolen vehicles, to cut fencing and people breaking into actual facilities. So, we’re incurring a lot of loss due to the criminal activity we’re seeing.” Paris said.

“I think it’s (the contract) very thoughtful. It adds a couple other high criticality sites to our security contract, predominately B.E.S and the parks bureaus I understand. It also withdraws security from some of our facilities which are no longer being used which makes a lot of sense,” said Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “As was indicated up front it also tries to bring our wages into a good comparator with other jurisdictions. It’s my understanding we’re still at a slight discount to other jurisdictions, but it’s not the whopping difference that we saw previously.”

Depressed wages and inflation have made hiring shortages a problem across all industries, but the hardest hit industries have been those requiring professional candidates to be on site for work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics have projected a 15% increase in the employment of security officers between 2020 and 2030 with a mean hourly wage of $17.23 nationally, currently reported average in Portland is $18.83 per hour according to Indeed.

Mayor Wheeler moved to put an emergency clause on the agenda item which was put to a unanimous vote. “With this vote today one of the things I hope to communicate to our city staff is that I hear your concerns and we will work with you to make sure that you have a safe workplace. The second reason why I am voting ‘aye’ on this item today is because it is critically important the City of Portland and in particular water and environmental services staff have access to our critical infrastructure.” Commissioner Mapps added in his vote, noting that the are places his staff are unable to access or potentially dangerous due to a lack of security.

Allied Universal inherited its contract with the City of Portland through acquisition in October 2021. For the full list of agenda items and a video archive of the meeting you can visit


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