Public Safety

50,000,000 Miles and ZERO Fatalities

Our Vision Zero strategy is not working. Portland’s focus on providing a world class experience when we Walk, Bike or Ride will not succeed if we cannot provide a safe environment. We finished this past year with 50 traffic deaths, the highest in 22 years. Regrettably, one of my daughter’s school mates is included in last year’s fatalities. Unfortunately, pedestrians in low-income areas suffer the greatest loss of life in these accidents.

Emerging technology and artificial intelligence are the solution for our city.

From 2014 to 2017, my company experienced a 200% increase in minor accidents. We were experiencing the same spike as Portland and knew that without action a major accident was inevitable. Our research determined the root cause as Driver Distraction and we spent a full year reviewing solutions. At the beginning of 2019 we implemented a revolutionary new safety system that uses artificial intelligence and edge computing that empowers our drivers by providing them with more awareness of risky driving behavior. Since implementing this system, we have reduced unsafe driving behavior 86%. Our follow up research has clearly indicated that Driver Distraction was the single highest unsafe behavior.

Based on my experience and knowledge of operating a transportation company that has delivered on the Vision Zero goal by operating 50,000,000 miles without a fatality and as the Commissioner of the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), I will redirect Portland’s Vision Zero program immediately. The cutting-edge technology I have outlined is much lower cost and immediately more effective. Every Portlander will arrive home safe.


Peace Officer AND Police Officer

Portland’s Police Bureau has been chronically understaffed and overworked for well over a decade. We have the same number of officers today as 12 years ago. Applications to become a police officer have been falling for years and approximately 100 positions remain vacant year after year. In an emergency “high priority” call, it takes an officer on average 8.6 minutes to arrive, 37% longer than in 2012. There simply is not enough manpower. Officers morale and public confidence is eroding in this essential public institution. It’s time to start a new conversation about public safety in Portland.

I propose we create a new Portland Peace Officer position that is fully sworn and unarmed. Property crimes take up a tremendous amount of an officer’s time and most are cold crimes that require an investigation and report.

Portland’s ranking - 100 largest US cities:

We are dispatching a fully armed officer when a fully trained, sworn and unarmed officer would be the correct resource. We are paying a police officer $50 per hour when we could greatly diversify our force and at the same time compensate a peace officer at a lower, yet very livable, rate of pay and cast a much wider net for persons who want to dedicate themselves to our community, provide all the support of a sworn officer but do not want or need to carry a gun.

I personally know how frustrating it is from the police chief’s perspective. As a trucking business owner once unable to find quality and qualified staff, our drivers were chronically overworked; our system was constantly running late which created an unsafe work environment; and our customers were often frustrated by delays. Our industries pool of Class A drivers is retiring at an alarming rate and young people are not being drawn to our industry, the same dilemma our police bureau is experiencing today. We evaluated our workforce and made changes. We began hiring Class C drivers to operate a slightly smaller truck. Our dispatching teams match the right driver with the right route. Today, in the most challenging hiring environment that I have experienced, we have a full staff of highly engaged and safety focused team members. Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high. It’s time our Portland Police Bureau boasts the same.

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  • Keith Wilson
    published this page in Priorities 2020-01-04 17:47:40 -0800