PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Gresham’s council president is looking forward to building strong relationships with other city and county leaders in order to stop gun violence in the metro area.
The Portland City Council unanimously approved a nearly $6 million package to reduce gun violence on Wednesday in response to a surge in shootings and killings that began in the middle of last year. It takes effect immediately.
Portland city leaders are hoping to reverse the trend of violence by bringing together leaders in Multnomah County and Gresham to work on the sweeping new regional plan.
Gresham Council President Eddy Morales said he supports the idea and that stronger collaboration among local leaders will lead to an increase in services to meet the needs of community members.
“I have personally been the victim of gun violence; guns have taken two of my brothers, way too soon — one in Portland — and too many friends to name,” Morales said. He said he will ask his fellow council members to join Portland’s efforts within the next couple of weeks. Morales said he also plans to “bring in culturally-specific groups in Gresham to the conversation as we craft our own culturally-specific response.”
But these efforts may not be enough to convince some residents to stay. Sarah Davis, who has spent much of her life living in Gresham, said the sense of security she had as a child growing up in the city is gone.
“We’d ride our bikes to the theater on Powell,” she said. “We’d throw our bikes down, go watch our movie, come home, our parents never had to worry about us. Now I wouldn’t let my grandkids play in my front yard.”
Davis said gun violence has increased substantially in her community and a shooting took place in the same apartment complex as hers last summer. It was the tipping point.
“I’m not staying here because I don’t care where you go in Gresham, nothing’s safe,” she said.
Among other things, the package approved by Portland leaders creates a dedicated seven-member team within the Portland Police Bureau to investigate shooting cases using existing personnel with new civilian oversight. It also provides more than $4 million in grants to community-based organizations and allocates $1.4 million to Portland Parks & Recreation to hire 24 more park rangers from May to December.