Portland Gun Homicides Continue Downward Trend

The mayor’s office is trumpeting new data that shows fatal shootings are on the decline.

High-profile shootings in city parks like Gateway Discovery Park were part of a troubling trend. (Blake Benard)

Since last summer, the one-year rolling average of fatal shootings in Portland has declined 27%, according to new data released by the mayor’s office.

The data comes from a presentation given to journalists and city commissioners this week by Mike Myers, who runs the mayor’s Community Safety Division. “That’s huge,” he said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”

And the statistic was even better among the Black population, he said, where the decrease was 37%.

It’s welcome news, as Portland homicides increased by more than 200% from 2019 to 2022, a massive rise that outpaced similar trends in other cities across the nation, particularly among young Black men. Now, Myers says, violence is decreasing in Portland faster than in its peers.

Myers credits a series of initiatives launched in the wake of Mayor Ted Wheeler declaring a state of emergency in July 2022. The city has funneled money into new anti-violence measures, including redeploying cops to hot spots, deterring potential shooters through Portland Ceasefire, and targeted sweeps of homeless encampments.

But, Myers warns, these initiatives aren’t cheap and they were partially paid for by one-time funding, like federal stimulus funds and excess city revenue during the pandemic. The next step, according to the slide deck distributed by Myers: “Avoid the coming fiscal cliff.”

If gun homicides continue to decline at their current rate, it will take three years for them to return to pre-pandemic levels. “We still have a long way to go,” Myers says.

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