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Absence of funding for critical positions is a detriment to community safety


On April 25, the Multnomah County Chair’s Office released its countywide proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2025. The following public statement is attributed to Sheriff Nicole Morrisey O’Donnell:

“While I am relieved that the Chair’s Fiscal Year 2025 proposed budget includes funding to maintain the County’s 1,130 jail beds, I am very concerned that it does not include funding to support human resources positions needed for hiring corrections deputies to operate the jails. The proposed budget also eliminates a detective position dedicated to investigating violent crime and a deputy responsible for responding to court-ordered firearm dispossessions. These decisions hurt community safety, not support it.

In every recent jail report and audit, understaffing in corrections is identified as the most pressing issue. Understaffing results in an overreliance on mandatory overtime, which is proven to cause burnout and attrition. It is not fiscally responsible nor is it sustainable. This affects adults in custody, contributing to a loss in programs and services that ultimately impact their health and wellbeing. The Sheriff’s Office has requested funding for human resources positions in nearly every budget cycle since 2020. I strongly encourage the Chair to reconsider this decision.

Equally troubling is a lack of financial support for key community safety functions in gun dispossession and investigations. Currently, MCSO is operating with less than half of the investigative personnel of neighboring sheriff’s offices. Specifically, the absence of funding for detective positions primarily focused on violent crime, including firearms and child abuse cases, increases the likelihood of investigative delays and that more of these gun and child crimes may not be fully investigated.

Amid these grave circumstances, on Wednesday, May 8, Multnomah County awarded our Detective Unit with the Committee’s Choice Award. This accolade recognized the exceptional work of our detectives to resolve hundreds of criminal cases, predominantly child abuse, firearms and Ballot Measure 11 crimes. I congratulate the members of this unit for their resiliency, and I urge the Chair and Board of Commissioners to provide the funding necessary to continue this vital work.

Likewise, the loss of a gun dispossession deputy will limit MCSO’s efforts to reduce gun violence. Data shows gun dispossession is critically important to reducing violence and intimidation, especially among families and domestic partners. Gun dispossession removes firearms from people who are ordered by the court not to have them.

I recognize the Chair and Board of County Commissioners have tough decisions, and I believe not funding these positions comes with significant impacts to community safety.

I am committed to my partnership with the Chair and Commissioners, and I encourage them to invest in the programs and services vital to building safer and stronger communities.”

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office will be presenting its budget to the Board of County Commissioners tomorrow, Thursday, May 9, at 9 a.m. Board meetings can be livestreamed on an electronic device by visiting the Multnomah County Board YouTube channel. The formal adoption of the budget occurs in June.