As of July 2021, 18 percent of all sworn officers employed by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) live inside Portland's city limits. That's 155 of Portland's 828 total officers.
This percentage point, obtained through a Mercury public records request and some number crunching, is unchanged from the last time we requested this data, in 2018. In September 2018, 158 of the bureau’s 864 sworn officers—or 18 percent—lived at an address with a ZIP code that falls within Portland limits.
This new data cements some of the assumptions Portlanders already had about their police force.
For instance, more PPB officers live in the state of Washington than Portland. Of those 174 officers who call Washington home, 76 live in Vancouver, 28 in Camas, 19 in Washougal, and least one calls Lake Stevens—located 210 miles from PPB's Central Precinct—home. In fact, only 78 percent of all sworn PPB officers live in Oregon. While the majority of out-of-state cops reside in Washington, PPB officers also have addresses in Alexandria, VA, El Dorado Hills, CA, Conroe, TX, and a town called Surprise, AZ.
Clackamas is the county home to the most PPB officers, with nearly thirty percent living in Clackamas County ZIP codes. Most of those residents live in Happy Valley, Oregon City, West Linn, and Sandy. Multnomah County is home to 23 percent of PPB officers, and 19 percent live in Washington County.
PPB has never required its officers to live in the city they police. Currently, PPB lieutenants and command staff—which includes captains, commanders, assistant chiefs, and the police chief—are granted a 5 percent pay increase if they do choose to call Portland home, per a requirement in the command staff's union. It's unknown how many people benefit from that bonus at this time. There is no such incentive for rank-and-file officers, which are representing by the Portland Police Association (PPA). PPA leadership did not respond to the Mercury's request for comment on the issue.
Studies have remained inconclusive on whether or not requiring officers to reside in the cities where they work—where they may feel more invested in the community—leads to better policing.
Several US cities have strict residency requirements for their law enforcement. In Chicago, a city ordinance mandates officers live in town. In Philadelphia, police are required to live in the city for at least their first five years of employment. A spokesperson for Mayor Ted Wheeler's office said he hasn't heard any discussion on the topic from Wheeler, who was unable to comment on the issue himself.
The 2021 PPB residency data varies little from data collected in September 2018. Not only does the same percentage of officers live in Portland city limits—18 percent—but the number of officers living in each Oregon county is nearly unchanged.