Portland Police Announces Return of the Cold Case Unit

Blog Post
Cold Case Slide with info card about Brian Spaulding
The Portland Police Bureau Cold Case Unit will be reinstated thanks to a grant.

In 2004, PPB formed a Cold Case Unit to use advances in technology to review and investigate unsolved homicides dating back to the 1960s. Over the course of the next 18 years, the Cold Case Unit reviewed more than 270 cases. The unit was able to clear more than 50 of those cases. More than 30 individuals were charged with homicide-related crimes.

In 2022, the Cold Case Unit was disbanded due to the reallocation of resources in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, unprecedented retirements and resignations, and exponential increases in both homicides and gun-related crimes.

In 2023, PPB applied for and received a grant through the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). The $2.5 million grant will fund four detectives and provide $300,000 for advanced testing to include Forensic Genetic Genealogy (FGG). The Cold Case Unit will not only review unsolved homicides, but also unsolved missing persons cases and unsolved violent crimes, such as robberies and assaults.

“I feel very fortunate that we’re able to bring back the Cold Case Unit,” Chief Bob Day said. “Clearing unsolved cases will hopefully provide some amount of closure for victims’ families. Work in this space can also reduce crime through the apprehension of prolific violent offenders.”

With hundreds of unsolved cases to examine, the Cold Case Unit will be tasked with prioritizing their caseload. The prioritization process will take into account severity, with homicides being a priority. Violent crimes will be prioritized based on time remaining on the statute of limitations.