Portland is experiencing gun violence at levels not seen in decades. It’s a public health crisis. Gun violence causes injury and death. It erodes the physical, psychological, social, and economic health of nearly everyone it touches. And the harm ripples out from there to our entire community.
Gun violence shortens lives. It inflicts trauma. It limits opportunity and achievement. And, it extends and strengthens the reach and grip of systemic inequities.
The numbers are staggering. This year alone there has been 324 shooting incidents, 104 shooting injuries, and 21-gun related homicides in Portland. It’s easy to rationalize the numbers as simply sad statistics. But behind every number there’s a child, parent, friend, or neighbor taken too soon, and family, friends and community traumatized by violence and loss.
Shootings are costly. Tens of thousands of hours and dollars and other resources go into each one. And the costs go far beyond the financial. Every shooting takes a mental and emotional toll on children, families, friends, neighbors, first responders, doctors and nurses, and many other people too.
Our community is grieving. We need to heal.
And we need to remember that right now in Portland, the people most impacted by gun violence are part of African American, African Immigrant, or Latino/a communities. These are the same communities that have been historically underserved and marginalized. Gun violence can be a result of social determinants, for example living in poverty, a poor and inequitable education system, lack of housing, COVID-19, and many other factors, virtually all of which are rooted in systemic racism and anti-Black policies.
Just like fighting a virus, prevention is critical. That’s why the Office of Violence Prevention seeks to strength communities by mobilizing support and providing positive alternatives that increase the resilience of people impacted by violence.
The Office of Violence Prevention uses data, research, and evidence-based practices to prioritize partnerships designed to interrupt cycles of gun violence. Current programs include Cure Violence, Hospital-Based Trauma 1 Response, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and other community led efforts.
These partnerships employ violence interrupters, street level outreach workers, and hospital responders who work to prevent violent events and retaliations, reduce risk among those most likely to become violent, and shift norms to discourage the use of violence.
On the streets, violence interrupters detect and interrupt conflicts and work to prevent them from escalating into potentially fatal violence. Street level outreach workers identify people at risk of violence and work to address their specific risk factors.
After gun violence occurs, community-based hospital responders provide crisis intervention for victims of violence at hospital trauma centers. They work to prevent retaliation or subsequent re-injury and help address psychological trauma caused by violent victimization.
The gun violence Portland is experiencing transcends neighborhoods and extends beyond city borders. The Office of Violence Prevention is working closely with partners and stakeholders across the greater Portland area to ensure the victims of gun violence and their families receive the support and resources they need.
Director of the Office of Violence Prevention