Portland Announces Gun Violence Initiative | CTV News


Affected by gun violence that is affecting cities across the country, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, on Thursday issued a new emergency declaration with the goal of reducing homicides by at least 10%. guns in the next two years.

This initiative directs $2.4 million to community groups and prevention efforts.

“Emergency declarations can get results where the status quo cannot,” Wheeler said during a City Hall briefing. “We will not stop until the gun violence stops.”

The number of shootings in Oregon’s largest city spiked above 670 in the first half of 2022 – ahead of the same period last year.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the gun homicide rate has fueled an increase in deadly violence in Portland following a nationwide trend. Prevent.

In the face of increasing violence, many cities are now trying to navigate how to maintain public safety while addressing calls for police reform and “downgrading” due to the murder of George Floyd. caused, when racial justice activists sought to allocate police funds to others for social services.

Portland, which has been rocked by near-nightly Black Lives Matter protests for months in 2020, slashed the city’s police budget by $15 million that year. But in November, it reversed course, raking in $5.2 million for the police department as homicides spiked.

At the briefing, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell announced that 16 new police officers were sworn in on Thursday in what he described as “the biggest new hire event we’ve had in a while.” a very long time.” The officers are part of 300 additional police office staff the city wants to hire over the next three years.

But despite recent hiring sprees and funding bumps, Lovell said staffing shortages are hampering his department’s ability to fight crime.

“It was one of our top priorities to upgrade the staff in the office again,” said Lovell. “We are working as hard as we can to address these cases.”

Signaling a shift from the city’s recent police budget cuts in 2020, Wheeler said he plans to increase the department’s funding. “As long as this crisis persists, there will be funding,” Wheeler said.

This initiative aims to strengthen and focus cooperation between law enforcement and community groups with the goal of increasing access to individuals at risk of exposure to gun violence.

Wheeler’s emergency declaration comes in response to a report issued by the Portland Police Office and the California Safe Community Partnership, a nonprofit that advises cities on reducing gun violence. . The report found that Portland had a homicide rate of 13.5 per 100,000 people last year, nearly double the national rate.

The number of homicides in Portland has surpassed that of more populous cities like San Francisco and Boston. The city of Oregon has twice as many homicides as its larger Pacific Northwest neighbor, Seattle.

Portland reported a record 89 homicides last year, up 65% from 2020, according to the Portland Police Department. The majority of those killings involved guns.

The Portland shootings disproportionately affect communities of color. Blacks make up only 6% of the city’s population, but account for nearly 39% of homicide victims.

Communities across the United States are grappling with a surge in shootings, with many around the country still reeling from a string of murders targeting a suburban July 4th parade. Chicago, black shoppers at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and children at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Congress last month passed the most important gun violence bill in 30 years. The bill would strengthen background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21, tighten laws that prevent domestic violence offenders from obtaining firearms, and provide billions of dollars in funding for health intervention programs. mental health and crisis in the community and school.

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