Portland Gun Violence Drops Amid Revamping of City Programs

“First time I’ve seen a negative number yet,” an ecstatic Mike Myers told county leaders in a meeting late last month.

In a bit of badly needed good news, the Portland Police Bureau reported last month that shootings and homicides were down year over year in January. There were 95 shootings that month, compared with 127 in January last year. Homicides declined from 9 to 6.

“First time I’ve seen a negative number yet,” an ecstatic Mike Myers told county leaders in a meeting late last month.

Myers, the city’s community safety director, credited hot-spot policing and new anti-violence programs, noting there hasn’t been a murder in the Old Town Entertainment District since the city began closing streets and increasing the police presence there in September.

The drop is also welcome news for Mayor Ted Wheeler, who in the midst of record-breaking homicides announced a series of initiatives called Safer Summer PDX to address the violence. The timeline of the program was never clear.

One of the initiative’s leaders, Shareef Khatib, completed his six-month, $105,000 contract in November. And many of the outreach contracts Khatib signed with local community leaders haven’t yet been renewed, sparking some grumbling.

“The work is scaled down mightily,” one of the contractors, Lionel Irving, told KATU-TV on March 13. “We had 11 guys on the streets, you know. Right now, we got three.”

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