All Portlanders deserve to feel safe in their community. Gun violence remains at historic levels, and it’s important that we work with experts to be innovative and most of all work together to make an impact. We are dedicated to bringing accountability and justice for the harm our community has endured and to intervening to prevent others from experiencing that pain.
Mayor Wheeler works closely with our public safety partners across the region to strategically and urgently address this crisis. Together, we continue to bolster our public safety initiatives with critical investments with an impact at the ground level.
The City of Portland is working closely with the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform and the California Partnership for Safe Communities to implement a new focused deterrence approach to reducing gun violence called “Portland Ceasefire.” This model has been shown significant results in other cities by focusing on identifying those at the highest risk of involvement in gun violence and offering them outreach and services to help them change their lives. This subject matter expertise will be invaluable to guide us as we build and implement a program tailored to Portland.
Portland Ceasefire will work to unify the efforts of the local community, law enforcement, and other government partners to engage directly with those at the highest risk of perpetrating or being victimized by gun violence.
How Will Focused Deterrence Work in Portland?
A Collaborative Approach: The Portland Ceasefire strategy is built on collaboration and partnership. It brings together various stakeholders, including government agencies, local community organizations, and concerned citizens, to work together towards a common goal: increasing public safety by the reduction of gun violence and violent crimes. By combining our resources, expertise, and perspectives, we can create a more comprehensive and effective approach to addressing gun violence.
Evidence-Based Strategies: Our efforts are grounded in evidence-based and data-driven strategies and best practices. We are leveraging the expertise of the National Institute of Criminal Justice Reform and California Partnership for Safe Communities to ensure that our actions are informed by data, research, and proven methods. This approach will help us maximize our impact and achieve sustainable outcomes.
Community Empowerment: One of the core principles of Portland Ceasefire is empowering our local communities. We recognize that the individuals and families affected by gun violence are the true agents of change. By actively involving them in the decision-making process and providing them with the necessary resources and support, we can empower them to take ownership of their neighborhoods and work towards creating safer environments.
Long-Term Solutions: Our focus extends beyond immediate interventions. While we are committed to addressing the urgent needs of our communities, we are also dedicated to implementing long-term solutions. This includes investing in education, mental health support, youth programs, and economic opportunities that address the root causes of violence and create sustainable pathways for positive change.
Street Level Outreach
Through the Office of Violence Prevention (OVP), the City has invested 4.5 million dollars over the next two years to implement a street-level outreach program.
Street-level outreach (or SLO) is a core program of OVP that hires violence interrupters—people with lived experience and credibility in the community—who can engage with those at risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator of violence. While SLO has existed since the launch of OVP in 2006, we are strengthening our SLO framework by adopting the ‘Cure Violence’ model, an evidence-based national best practice that focuses on identifying and engaging those at risk of involvement in gun violence.
We are working closely with the Cure Violence Global team to implement this new model and provide training and support to the local SLO teams on the ground. This model has proven highly effective in other communities in reducing gun violence. OVP began requesting proposals for this work from local organizations in December 2022, creating three long-term contracts through a competitive and transparent process. Together, Portland Ceasefire and Cure Violence will complement one another and help us make meaningful improvements in the safety of our community.
Office of Violence Prevention
Through the Office of Violence Prevention (OVP), the Portland City Council has invested in further strategies with an unprecedented fourteen million dollars over two years.
In addition to Street Level Outreach, OVP is also providing services such as:
School-based program for middle school students called Youth Against Violence,
Intensive Case Management for 18-months in a program designed for the highest risk individuals,
Healing Hurt People, which is a hospital-based gun violence interruption program; and,
Support for families of the highest risk individuals through Trauma & Violence Impacted Families.
'Safer Summer PDX'
Last year, I declared a state of emergency around gun violence in Portland and implemented the Safer Summer PDX plan. That emergency declaration remains in place today.
Through Safer Summer PDX, from July to December of 2022, we invested 2.7 million dollars in community-based organizations aimed at steering individuals at high risk away from violence, creating prosocial events, and working with communities to employ place-based strategies to deter gun violence. We worked with neighbors and businesses in the Entertainment District, which had the highest rate of gun violence in the City.
Through collaboration among the community, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and other government bureaus, a plan was developed to modify the flow of traffic, increase foot patrols, and enforce various code violations that contributed to gun violence in the area.
Shooting incidents dropped from the highest frequency to zero in short order.
City bureaus also worked closely with neighbors in Montavilla to address gun violence and other crime along 82nd. After substantial collaboration among the Community Safety Division (CSD), PBOT, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), and led by the City’s Safe Blocks team, gun homicides dropped to zero in that area for a year.
Taking lessons we learned in last year’s Safer Summer PDX work, we ensured that we began summer planning well in advance for 2023. This year, we began making summertime violence prevention investments in March.
Safer Summer PDX ramped up existing SLO capacity by engaging seven additional grassroots organizations to engage at-risk individuals through the end of this summer. This additional investment will ensure that there are no gaps in outreach work while we complete the RFP process for Cure Violence SLO. Our partners provide violence interruption, outreach, and mentorship programs alongside existing outreach programs by Portland Opportunities Industrial Center (POIC), Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), International Refugee Center of Oregon (IRCO), and Latino Network.
This substantial investment in summertime safety means we currently have twice the number of outreach workers on the ground than last year. With many lessons learned last year, Safer Summer PDX made a difference.
When we started in July 2022, Portland’s gun violence was growing at a shocking rate of 200% compared to similar cities. By the end of 2022, we were able to stem that rate of growth and prevent the spike in violence that was predicted. From July to October 2022, we saw a 19% reduction in all shooting incidents compared to the same months in 2021. And we have continued to see data indicating positive trends this year.
Comparing 2022 and 2023 year-to-date data as of April 30, we have seen total shooting incidents reduced by 28%, and gun homicide incidents drop 37%. I firmly believe that the Safer Summer investments last year and this year have helped build a solid foundation for the steps we are taking to add sustainable violence prevention programs to our toolkit.
Safe Blocks Program
The Community Safety Division (CSD) team has also worked to revitalize the Safe Blocks program (formerly the Crime Prevention program), which advances community-led, collaborative strategies using a ‘Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design’ approach.
This work supports community members through trainings, education, place-based security assessments, community-building activities, and resources and referrals. This program includes certified Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (or CPTED) experts who provide guidance on reducing vulnerability to harm and increasing positive activity in public spaces.
The Safe Blocks program was recently awarded a 2-million-dollar federal grant to expand its work, and we are using these resources to bring the program into neighborhoods such as Hazelwood.