Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Chief of Police Chuck Lovell and Director of the Office of Violence Prevention Nike Greene today announced that beginning immediately more officers will be assigned to investigate and follow up on shootings and more outreach and hospital-based trauma responders will be deployed to support near term reductions in the ongoing gun violence epidemic.
Like many other cities, Portland is experiencing record gun violence, exacerbated in part by COVID.
“Gun violence is like a virus. It’s ravaging our community. Beginning today, the Portland Police will shift more detectives to gun violence and to finding and arresting those responsible,” Wheeler said. “Just as important, the Office of Violence Prevention will shift its resources to allow for more direct follow up with people who’ve been impacted. Many lives are being lost. The time for action is now,” he said.
In addition to prioritizing the city’s resources for investigation and response to gun violence, the city also is reaching out to other law enforcement agencies for support. The Portland Police are in contact with the Multnomah County Sheriff, the Oregon State Police, the Multnomah County District Attorney, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ensure a coordinated approach to investigating, resolving and preventing gun violence.
“Gun violence has plagued our city at twice the rate of last year. On average someone is shot in Portland roughly every two days,” said Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell. “There have been 52 homicides this year. We cannot lose sight of the fact that these are human beings who have died and there are broad traumatic impacts throughout the community for the lives that have been lost,” he said.
In addition to requesting an immediate shift of existing resources to gun violence investigation and victim support, the Mayor also asked the Police and the Office of Violence Prevention to create budget requests for near term investments to fill gaps in the city’s current ability to respond to gun violence. The Mayor asked for the proposals to be completed before December 25th. The Mayor intends to seek City Council commitment to provide the resources now and to follow through with budget amendments during the city’s annual spring budget adjustment process.
“As we collectively address what is happening in our streets today to get near term reductions in gun violence we must understand that it doesn’t negate nor remove the much needed upstream work that addresses the social determinants that got us here in the first place,” said Nike Greene, director of the Office of Violence Prevention. “We must treat those impacted right now-by gun violence. We must and will prioritize the services impacted families need today while also remembering that we also need to do the upstream work that addresses the social determinants that got us here in the first place,” she said.
The Police Bureau plans to deploy more officers with specialized training and knowledge of gun violence and gun violence investigations to support arrests and the clearing of existing cases. The Office of Violence Prevention will deploy more people who specialize in working with hospital staff, victims and their families to reduce retaliation and victimization.
“Our job is to prioritize our response to the many challenges facing our city. We all agree gun violence requires immediate attention and action and that’s what we’re going to do,” Wheeler said.
City officials urge anyone with information about a gun crime to contact police.