Emergency Ordinance

*Authorize purchase to replace a patrol airplane and specialized equipment for the Police Bureau Air Support Unit for $1,500,000


The City of Portland ordains:

Section 1. The Council finds:

  1. The Air Support Unit of the Portland Police Bureau has existed since 1990. The Air Support Unit (ASU) consists of one full-time position, that of the ASU Sergeant. Four other pilots and six other Tactical Flight Officers are what is known as “detached,” which means their ASU functions are not their primary functions;
  2. The Air Support Unit has been flying approximately 1200 hours per year. Year to date, this Unit has flown 1235.1 hours and conducted 188 patrol support missions, helping patrol officers respond to priority calls for service;
  3. ASU has assisted many investigative units within the Police Bureau, and nine agencies outside of the Bureau, such as the Portland Fire Bureau, Portland Water Bureau, Rose Festival Flights, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, with various requests within this year as well;
  4. The Air Support Unit is equipped with two Cessna airplanes.  One of these planes, the 1978 Cessna Skyhawk, purchased in the 1990’s and having over 10,000 hours of use on its airframe, is nearing the end of their useful life; the specialized equipment installed for law enforcement use also requires replacement;
  5. At this time, the Police Bureau would like to replace Skyhawk. The City of Portland purchased this aircraft in 1999. The specialized equipment installed in the Skyhawk is outdated, and flight missions are being canceled due to the equipment breakage. Maintenance costs are increasing for this Cessna due to the airframe's wear and tear;
  6. Sufficient funding resides within the Bureau’s current appropriations to cover the cost of the requested equipment purchases; and
  7. It is in the best interests of the City to expeditiously replace the Skyhawk aircraft and equipment due to its non-operative status, which limits patrol options for ASU and potentially impacts the safety of the community.

NOW, THEREFORE, the Council directs:

  1. The Chief Procurement Officer is authorized to work with the Special Resources Division of the Police Bureau, to identify and secure the equipment necessary for use by ASU to replace PPB’s existing airplane and equipment, and to execute one or more contracts for goods or services in accordance with City Procurement Code, provided the contracts are approved as to form by the City Attorney’s Office.
  2. The Mayor and City Auditor are hereby authorized to pay for said purchase from the Police budget.

Section 2.  The Council declares that an emergency exists as it is important for the benefit of the City to affect these equipment purchases without additional delay; therefore, this Ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage by the Council.

An ordinance when passed by the Council shall be signed by the Auditor. It shall be carefully filed and preserved in the custody of the Auditor (City Charter Chapter 2 Article 1 Section 2-122)

Passed by Council

Auditor of the City of Portland
Simone Rede

Impact Statement

Purpose of Proposed Legislation and Background Information

Portland Police Bureau has had an Air Support Unit since 1990. The Air Support Unit (ASU) consists of one full-time position, that of the ASU Sergeant. Four other pilots and six other Tactical Flight Officers participate in the operation of the unit as detached members.

The Air Support Unit has flown approximately 1200 hours per year on average since its inception. Year to date, this Unit has flown 1235.1 hours and has completed 188 patrol support missions, assisting to respond to priority calls for service.

The Air Support Unit is requested often because of its ability to provide valuable information for officers and community members on the ground. The average time between dispatching the Air Support Unit and the time that the ASU arrives at the scene is 1.3 minutes; this response time is substantially lower than that of an officer in a patrol car.

ASU can coordinate a safe approach and request additional officers or resources if the emergency still exists or the situation changes, as incidents-in-progress often do. If the emergency no longer exists, they can clear valuable ground-level patrol resources, so they are not driving to a 911 call that no longer needs a police response.

Additionally, the airplane allows officers the ability to disengage from fleeing suspects. This prevents our city employees from being involved in a vehicle crash and possibly injuring themselves or a community member, damaging city resources and private property, and it reduces the City's liability when the officers on the ground are no longer required to conduct vehicle pursuits.

Replacing the Cessna Skyhawk, a 44-year-old plane with over 10,000 hours on its airframe, will allow the ASU to continue to serve the communities of Portland in with similar or better results in future.

Financial and Budgetary Impacts

Replacement of this equipment will reduce future maintenance costs.  It will also allow comparable mission flying time to past years, since the current equipment no longer functions at acceptably safe levels.

Replacement will reduce City liability in case equipment is used and fails, or if lack of response by the unit causes increased risk exposure during an incident.

Community Impacts and Community Involvement

Overall community safety is increased by use of ASU.  ASU provides the Police Bureau with non-confrontational options to chasing suspects, allows the Bureau to monitor actions from a safe distance without affecting the privacy of Portland citizens.  Using the Air Support Unit also reduces the chances of community members’ injury or death during vehicle chases.

100% Renewable Goal

Replacement of inoperable or unsafe equipment with newer, more technologically advance equipment reduces fuel costs and need for maintenance, which uses electricity and potentially the use of solvents.  This would allow the City to reduce its environmental impact.

Budget Office Financial Impact Analysis

This ordinance authorizes the Portland Police Bureau to replace one (of two) airplanes that support the Police Bureau Air Support Unit for $1.5 million. The airplane that requires replacement has reached the end of its useful life along with the specialized equipment installed for law enforcement use in the aircraft. Sufficient funding is available in equipment replacement reserve funds in PPB’s current year budget. Once there's an actual purchase underway, the bureau states that the replacement will be capitalized.

Agenda Items

103 Regular Agenda in February 1-2, 2023 Council Agenda


  • Commissioner Carmen Rubio Yea
  • Commissioner Rene Gonzalez Yea
  • Commissioner Mingus Mapps Yea
  • Commissioner Dan Ryan Yea
  • Mayor Ted Wheeler Absent

Introduced by



Sgt. Brian Sweeney

Air Support Unit Sergeant
brian.sweeney@police.portlandoregon.govPlease include "Cessna 2023 Replacement" in the subject line
phone number503-209-1816Monday through Thursday, 8:00AM to 5:00PM

Requested Agenda Type


Date and Time Information

Requested Council Date
Time Requested
20 minutes