Portland Police Department | 109 Middle Street | Portland, Maine 04101 | (207) 874-8479

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Inside the PD

The Portland Police Department is proud to work in partnership with the community to keep Portland a safe and livable city. “Protect and Serve” is more than just a motto for us; it is our passion.

In order to best carry out our mission, the Department is divided into four functional areas: Uniformed Operations, Criminal Investigations, Emergency Communications and Administration. We also staff a number of specialty teams to effectively manage specific types of high risk incidents and provide specialized response or participate in task forces which target identified problems within the community.

Uniformed Operations Group

The Uniformed Operations Group provides uniformed law enforcement operations city-wide and spearheads the Department’s community services program. Units assigned to this area are responsible for implementing the Department’s statistics-based anti-crime initiatives. Elements of the Uniformed Operations Group include Patrol, Community Services and Administrative Services.

Patrol

The nearly 100 officers assigned to Patrol are the back bone of the Portland Police Department. These men and women patrol the City 24 hours per day, seven days a week. The majority of patrol officers work a 4/10 schedule (four ten hour shifts per week). A smaller contingent is assigned to work a traditional 5/8 schedule in order to concentrate coverage during peak hours.

Patrol Officers are the first responders to more than 80,000 calls for service in the City of Portland each year including armed robberies, domestic violence incidents, thefts, and public disorder complaints. In addition to responding to citizen generated calls, officers self-initiate activity by searching for wanted individuals, conducting traffic enforcement, and checking assigned areas for suspicious individuals or situations. They also conduct preliminary investigations, write incident reports, arrest suspects, and issue citations.

Patrol Officers are assigned to specific geographic areas which are known as beats. This enables quicker response to calls and encourages familiarity with residents and neighborhood issues. The patrol beats are structured to take advantage of natural boundaries such as major thoroughfares and traditional neighborhoods while ensuring an even distribution of call volume.

Administrative Services

Administrative Services includes Records, the Traffic Unit, Island Services and Training.

Records: The Records Unit is responsible for managing the storage and dissemination of nearly 12,000 incident reports, 6400 citations, and 4000 arrest reports produced each year. Three full-time records clerks provide copies of reports to the public in accordance with state law, ensure the flow of paperwork to and from the court and jail, and provide data entry and data review services as necessary.

For information on obtaining copies of police reports, please go to http://police.portlandmaine.gov/faq.asp

Traffic Unit: The Traffic Unit investigates all fatal and serious injury motor vehicle accidents as well as hit and run accidents. Additionally, the Traffic Sergeant coordinates the police role in events such as road races, parades, and street closures.

Although all uniformed officers are expected to enforce traffic laws, the Traffic Unit focuses on enforcement in problem areas such as high-accident intersections and school zones as well as citizen requests for increased attention.

For information on contesting traffic citations, please see our FAQ page. To obtain copies of motor vehicle accident reports, please go to http://getcrashreports.com/

Island Services: The Portland Police Department provides full-time law enforcement services to Peaks Island. Four Portland Police Officers work rotating 24 hour shifts on the island where they respond to approximately 300 police calls for service each year. Officers also provide backup support and assistance to assigned Portland Firefighters as necessary.

Assignment to Peaks Patrol provides a unique opportunity for officers to immerse themselves in the neighborhood in which they serve. They ride the ferry alongside residents and visitors, live side by side with islanders, and know many community members by name. Officers currently assigned to Peaks Island have close to 50 years of experience serving the island.

For more information on Peaks Patrol, please read the Peaks Island Blog at http://peaksislandpatrol.blogspot.com/

Training: The Training unit which includes a sergeant and a civilian coordinator are responsible for managing and administering the training function department-wide. This includes everything from the basic pre-service Criminal Justice Academy to advanced training for specialty positions such as evidence technicians. Please see the employment section of our website for additional information on pre-service training.

The State of Maine mandates that all law enforcement officers must meet specific annual in-service training requirements in order to maintain their certification. These training requirements, which ensure that officers remain proficient in all-aspects of their job, include mandated subject areas as well as elective training.

In addition to state-mandated training, the command staff encourages officer development through specialized and advanced training and occasionally mandates training in certain focus areas. Civilian employees, especially those assigned to the Portland Regional Communications Center, also receive training appropriate to their positions.

Criminal Investigations Division

The Criminal Investigations Division is comprised of two investigative sections, a street crimes unit, Forensic Services, Property and Evidence and Court Services.

The investigative sections are divided by the type of crime under investigation: Crimes Against People and Crimes Against Property. Detectives assigned to these units conduct follow-up investigations of reported crimes including interviewing suspects, victims, and witnesses, analyzing information, and preparing cases for court presentation.

The Crime Reduction Unit (CRU) targets emerging trends such as robberies, residential or motor vehicle burglary sprees, or street level drug trafficking. The unit was designed to be agile and responsive to patterns established through the department’s Compstat system. CRU members also conduct bail checks, investigate crime tips and work closely with detectives to identify and arrest suspects.

Four Evidence Technicians assigned to Forensic Services collect and process evidence in an effort to develop information that leads to the identification and, ultimately, the arrest of a suspect.

The Property and Evidence Coordinator ensures the proper and safe collection, storage, return or destruction of items coming into the custody of the department while the Court Officer acts as a conduit between the department and the court ensuring the proper flow of paperwork and officer appearances.

Emergency Communications

The Portland Police Department serves as the host agency for the Portland Regional Communications Center which provides Emergency Communications services to the Cities of Portland and South Portland and the town of Cape Elizabeth. A total of 37 telecommunicators working 8 or 12 hour shifts answer 911 and non-emergency calls and dispatch police, fire and ems units.

Emergency communications is not a job for the faint of heart. Telecommunicators must juggle multiple tasks including maintaining telephone and radio communications and accurately documenting information and activity in complex software programs while maintaining situational awareness of several simultaneous emergencies. They provide life-saving medical instructions, obtain and convey officer safety information, and coordinate multi-jurisdictional responses to major incidents.

The hiring process and training regimen for new telecommunicators is rigorous. Candidates must pass a pre-employment test to ensure they have the appropriate skills, abilities and temperament to perform this important job. Once hired, they receive comprehensive on the job training and receive state-mandated training including the Emergency Telecommunicator Course, Emergency 911 Equipment Certification and Emergency Medical Dispatch Certification.

Successful trainees are rewarded with a fulfilling, exciting career. A career in which they can make a difference each day.

If you are interested in joining us by becoming a telecommunicator at the Portland Regional Communications Center, please go to the employment section of our website

Specialty Teams

The Portland Police Department fields a number of specialty teams. Officers are assigned to these teams in addition to their other duties as patrol officers and detectives and they receive specialized training to handle unusual occurrences or circumstances that go beyond general patrol functions.

Our specialty teams include:

Canine Unit: The Portland Police Department currently utilizes six K-9 teams; each comprised of an officer and a highly trained dog. Three teams are trained to do things like search for lost people, detect narcotics or assist in the apprehension of suspects. They are important tools in patrol and are on-call together 24 hours a day. The other three K-9 teams are trained in explosive detection and do much of their work at the Portland Jetport and other transportation centers. The K-9 teams train extensively – using “positive” training methods such as toys or food as an incentive. (More information K-9)

Crisis Negotiation Team: The eight member Crisis Negotiation Team is called upon several times each year to achieve a peaceful end to incidents such as suicidal individuals, barricaded subjects, high-risk search warrants and domestic crises. Members train each month and participate in joint exercises with the Special Reaction Team and Hazardous Devices Unit each year. Collectively, members of the Crisis Negotiation Team have more than 60 years of experience in the field. They specialize in active listening and utilize current technology and methodology in training as well as in the field.

Dive Team: Portland Police Divers conduct underwater search and recovery operations in Portland Harbor as well as nearby ponds and rivers. Generally divers are called upon to search for and recover physical evidence such as weapons, stolen property and vehicles used during the commission of a crime; occasionally they search for bodies. They typically operate under difficult conditions: cold water and low to zero visibility and must undergo intense training to meet the challenges of their assignment. The team recently consolidated with the South Portland Police Dive Team in order to share resources and improve response capabilities.

Hazardous Devices Unit: One of just three FBI accredited bomb teams in the State of Maine, the Portland Police Hazardous Devices Unit is comprised of five certified bomb technicians who are trained to remove or render safe suspected explosive materials, improvised explosive devices (IED’s), incendiary devices and ordinance. All technicians must complete a rigorous six-week training program at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama prior to certification. With equipment and training funded almost entirely by federal grants, the HDU is valuable resource in the City as well as the surrounding area.

Special Reaction Team: The highly-trained and specially-equipped members of the SRT are tasked with responding to incidents that exceed the capabilities of standard patrol resources while minimizing the risk of harm to citizens, police officers and suspects. Such situations may include service of high risk search or arrest warrants, armed barricaded subjects, hostage rescue or apprehension of dangerous suspects. Although members are in top physical condition and trained to use a variety of weapons, the SRT strives to achieve a peaceful and safe resolution to any crisis.

Specialized Capabilities/Response and Task Forces

Behavioral Health

Police officers are often called upon to respond to complex, time consuming calls involving individuals with mental illness. Although the vast majority of these contacts end peacefully, the risk of injury to the officer, the individual, and community members is high. In order to facilitate the best possible outcome, the Portland Police Department has developed a comprehensive, innovative specialized behavioral health response program – a program that received national recognition when Portland was named one of just six Law Enforcement/Mental Health Learning sites nationwide.

Portland’s specialized behavioral health response capabilities includes:

Maine Drug Enforcement Agency

From drug-related crime to overdose deaths, illegal drugs and diverted prescription medications negatively affect our community in numerous ways. Enforcement of drug laws is a critical element in a multi-pronged strategy to reduce illegal drug use by disrupting the supply of drugs flowing into the area.

Recognizing that the drug problem is complex and not contained within city limits, the Portland Police Department has partnered with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and other local law enforcement agencies to make the most effective and efficient use of limited resources and personnel.

Two Portland Police detectives and a sergeant are currently assigned to a regional task force where work collaboratively to address the manufacture, sale, and use of illegal drugs as well as the diversion of prescription drugs.

Regional Crime Laboratory

In 2006, a coalition of officials from Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland, Westbrook and Cumberland County, Maine agreed to establish a partnership to share resources and costs related to the creation of a regional forensics laboratory. Forensic services are a vital aspect of criminal investigation and the development of new technologies and methodologies have dramatically advanced the capabilities of forensic examination and analysis. These advances have, however, brought a corresponding increase in equipment, maintenance costs, training, certifications, and expertise required to provide these services.

The regional crime lab, which opened in 2009 enables participating communities to provide forensic services in an efficient and cost effective manner by sharing the costs of equipment and technology.

Safe Streets Task Force

In 2012, the Portland Police Department collaborated with the FBI to launch a Safe Streets Task Force based in the city. Comprised of federal and local law enforcement personnel, the Task Force identifies, investigates and targets criminal enterprise groups responsible for drug trafficking, money laundering, alien smuggling, and violent crimes.