Everyone has a Right to Feel Safe in Portland ~ Felicia Williams

Everyone has a right to feel safe in Portland

This post is the second in a series based on our interview with Felicia Williams, City Council Candidate for Position 3. More on Felicia here.

Q: Many Portlanders are concerned about crime and livability — they’re tired of  theft, drug dealing, and garbage and litter— how do you address those issues?

Felicia:  – My first priority is increasing police staffing levels. Have you ever called 911? Did you get a quick response? Right now the typical wait times range from 3 minutes up to 15 minutes, and police response times can range anywhere from 9 minutes to over an hour. The current police staffing shortages put all of us at risk.

You can find data on police response times here.  And sort it by neighborhood

Q: What would you say to those that oppose increasing police staffing?

Felicia: The police staffing shortages also mean that we no longer have community policing foot patrols, or enough officers working in the Behavioral Health Units and Enhanced Crisis Intervention Teams to respond to people experiencing mental health crises.

Our emergency dispatch and police staffing numbers have reached critical levels and it is affecting how quickly people receive emergency services when they need it most. No one wants to wait on hold when they call 911 or have an exhausted cop at the end of a sixty-hour work week showing up in a moment of crisis.

Q: Where would the staffing funds come from? Would you take it from Parks & Rec?

Felicia: Portland Parks & Rec has multiple sources of independent funding, including that recent bond measure. In looking at many years of their budget, it’s clear that the biggest challenge with Parks is that they make cuts every year, but when they get a windfall, rather than reinstating previous cuts they choose to start new programs. By contrast, the Police and BOEC are general fund bureaus and therefore every penny of their funding has to come from the general fund. Focusing on core services and funding them adequately is the basic responsibility of the City Council.

Felicia Williams on How PDX Can Survive the “Big One.”

The best way to survive an earthquake

This post is the first in a series based on our interview with Felicia Willams, City Council Candidate for Position 3. More on Felicia here.

Q: We’re all a little freaked out by thoughts of “The Big One.” Tell us more about your campaign plank on “Emergency Preparedness.”

Felicia: We’ve all read the New Yorker article about the “Big One,” and have witnessed what happened with failed federal relief in Puerto Rico. When a natural disaster strikes Portland, we can’t necessarily rely on the federal government for a rapid and adequate response, so we need to get serious about preparing our city.

Q: Agreed … and we secretly suspect Trump would be glad to leave the Left Coast hanging. (joke) Seriously, what would you do to get us better prepared to survive an earthquake?

Felicia: The best way to survive an earthquake is to prepare for it.

Q: That sounds good, but do you have any specifics?

Felicia: Yes, I do. Here’s my five point plan that I will support as a Commissioner:

  1. Install an earthquake early warning system attached to both civil defense sirens and personal smart devices. This would give people up to two minutes to get to safety.
  2. Train additional Neighborhood Emergency Team Members (NETs) throughout our City and making sure we have NET teams in every single Portland neighborhood and high density apartment building.
  3. Develop Emergency Operations Plans for all of our K-12 schools.
  4. Make sure every family has Personal Action Plan.
  5. Test the early warning system and Personal Actions Plans annually.

Q: We’ve heard you did disaster work in the Air Force?

Felicia:  Yes, my concerns for emergency preparedness grow out of my work in Command and Control while serving in the U.S. Air Force.  I know what it’s like to directly coordinate high level responses to fires, gas leaks, plane crashes, tornadoes, and mass casualty events.  When a disaster strikes, it will be critical to have calm, experienced leadership guiding our response, and this is exactly what I will provide Portland.

Q: Sounds like you’ve been in challenging situations before.

Felicia: Each is unique, but we can take action so Portlanders can work together to get through a disaster. We can utilize the public-private partnerships that already exist throughout Portland to create neighborhood and community safety plans so we can survive a catastrophic emergency.