JACKSON COUNTY – The Portland Police Bureau, the state’s largest local police agency, is relaxing it’s hiring requirements. Portland NBC-affiliate KGW reports it has 128 openings.
Last week, the Portland Police Bureau announced they will now open applications to people with a high school diploma or a GED, matching the Oregon State Police requirement. Previously, Portland Police required at least an associate’s degree. Here in Southern Oregon, the rules differ between departments.
“There’s a whole bunch of different requirements, but in regards to education, it’s a high school diploma or a GED equivalent,” Lt. Justin Ivens, Medford Police Department, said.
However, while Portland is struggling to hire officers, Southern Oregon doesn’t seem to have the same problem.
Sheriff Nathan Sickler said that while applicant numbers have decreased at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, they’re not having any issues hiring.
“We’re still going through the processes the same and we are still getting very qualified applicants. In fact, our last two recruit classes at the academy were outstanding, so we are getting probably some of the best recruits that we’ve had in a long, long time,” Sheriff Sickler said.
Phoenix Police don’t have any openings either.
“It’s difficult for the smaller agencies in the valley in general just because the three or four larger agencies in the valley, they pay a lot more,” Chief Derek Bowker, Phoenix Police Department, said.
The Portland Police Bureau is also looking at loosening restrictions around facial hair and tattoos above the collar. Phoenix and Medford police don’t allow beards. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office allows trimmed beards. None have rules on tattoos, except they need to be appropriate.
“We do have an employee or two that do have tattoos above the collar and that doesn’t impact their ability to do their job,” Sheriff Sickler said.
Each agency said that one of the reasons they don’t have difficulty hiring is because of how supportive the Rogue Valley is for law enforcement.
Anna Weeks is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Oregon State University with a degree in Digital Communication Arts and a minor in writing. Previously, she interned with the National Association of Broadcasters at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.
Originally from the Portland area, Anna is excited to explore Southern Oregon. In her free time, she can be found reading, running or watching sports.