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City of Gresham pauses School Resource Officer program; explores interim violence prevention strategies

July 12, 2022

The City of Gresham’s police department, faced with significant staff shortages, has made the difficult decision to pause the School Resource Officer (SRO) program with Centennial, Gresham-Barlow and Reynolds school districts. Gresham Police is working to fill 19 sworn officer vacancies and plans to re-deploy officers currently assigned to the SRO program to patrol positions.

"While this was a very difficult decision because we understand the value of our school resource officers to the community, it is what’s necessary at this time to increase our ability to respond to emergencies,” said Police Chief Travis Gullberg. “Knowing it takes upwards of 18 months to onboard a new officer, we need to be realistic about our ability to fulfill our contracts with our school partners. Recruiting and retaining officers is a top priority, and we hope to announce the return of the SRO program as soon as staffing allows.”

The City currently receives grant funding from the State of Oregon to help operate a new Youth Services division, which contracts with local, culturally competent community based organizations (CBOs) for outreach, intervention and youth violence prevention efforts. While our Youth Services team can’t offer security services, they are already working with our school district partners to help provide outreach services for students. For districts that are interested, the City will begin discussions with our CBOs and school district partners to explore creative strategies as we continue to focus on violence prevention. When Gresham Police staffing stabilizes, the City plans to work with districts to reinstate the SRO program. 

Gresham City Council invested $5.2 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds in the police department to provide hiring bonuses, training, add non-sworn staff to assist with officer workload, and launch a pilot Community Service Specialist program to handle non-emergent calls. With part of that funding, the police department is hiring a dedicated emergency services recruiter, offering referral bonuses, and working with the state to try to reduce some of the onboarding barriers faced when hiring new officers. In August, Gresham City Council will consider the adoption of a three-year City financial plan that includes an additional $6 million investment in the police department.