A summertime effort to curb Portland’s gang violence managed to level off shootings
and increase prosecution of gang-related crimes, officials reported today.
After a high violence spring that saw 57 shootings between January and early June (compared with 36 shootings for the same time last year), police, the U.S. attorney and nonprofits announced Operation Safe Summer
Pitched as a combination of intervention, prevention and tough prosecution against those involved with gangs, Portland Police Chief Mike Reese says the effort had a “measurable impact.”
While the 57 shootings in the first half of the year were a 60 percent increase in violence over the same time in 2011, the 37 shootings from June 21 to Oct. 10 were almost equal to the 35 shootings over the same time last year
, police say.
Officers made 6,100 contacts, 128 arrests, seized 29 firearms and had just two citizen complaints, Sgt. Pete Simpson says.U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall
says that her office, which added two additional gang prosecutors early this year, made 17 gun-releated indictments and four drug-related indictments. That’s a 30 percent increase over the last year, she says.
“If there is a gang member who possesses a gun unlawfully, we will take that case,” Marshall said during a press conference at the Police North Precinct this morning.
However, those extra cops assigned to gang suppression aren’t there any more
. Reese says they’ve been reassigned back to their previous units. Portland still has domestic violence, drug and other issues that need policing too. He told reporters that a repeat of Operation Safe Summer for next year isn’t a guarantee. Still, he adds, something will have to be done in the long run.
“This isn’t something that’s going to change overnight,” Reese says. “We have a gang problem.”