A spike in gang violence
in Portland—and fears of it growing worse this summer—has prompted city officials to list off a number of prevention and enforcement steps they’re taking.
Mayor Sam Adams
, Police Chief Mike Reese
and other officials say the city’s “Operation Safe Summer” is a combination of intervention, prevention and tough prosecution against those involved with gangs.
Adams specifically cited what he says is the increase in illegal guns in Portland—an issue he’s been talking about for a long time.
“Access to illegal weapons has swamped this city and other states,” Adams said. “Ask any mayor.”
But officials didn’t address the weapons issue in their plans. City officials handed a comic-book style brochure
that lists city services and strategies aimed at reducing gang violence.
The strategy includes:
Increasing the number of police officers and prosecutors (both in the Multnomah County DA’s office and the U.S. Attorney’s office) dedicated gang issues. US Attorney Amanda Marshall said her office has assigned three new prosecutors dedicated to gang cases, and she says they will be on call 24/7.
Offering youth more activities, including following the model used by the Rosewood Initiative
in East Portland.
Relying on private organizations, such as Connected
, to patrol parks and intervene with youth when possible.
Gang violence in Portland traditionally spikes during the summer. The city has already seen 57 gang shootings
as of June 8, compared to 36 for the same period of time last year, according to stats released at Thursday’s press conference.
Police Capt. Ron Alexander said the city hopes to see an effect by the end of the summer, with numbers returning to those seen in the past few years.
“The hardest thing with law enforcement is to know when something has been prevented,” he said. “It’s like Schrödinger’s cat
. You won’t know until you open the box.”