PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As Portland continues to grapple with continued gun violence, some residents wonder how the city effectively spends its money to combat the record number of shootings and homicides being seen.
The city tells KOIN 6 News one of the overall goals of Portland’s Community Safety Division is to decrease the need for a public safety response. Within the CSD is the Office of Violence Prevention, which reportedly receives millions of tax dollars each year that are meant to support violence prevention efforts.
“Prevention is the most effective tool we have in our toolbox,” CSD’s Lisa Freeman said. “Many individuals who are involved in shootings are people who have been previously arrested or been involved in the justice system”
Freeman says they invest in intervention programs to re-direct teenagers or young adults traveling a path that could lead to violence.
“These are not just things we’ve decided to do in Portland because they seem like a good idea,” Freeman said. “There’s a national network of offices of violence prevention and they’re the best practices. These are the programs that have been proven nationally to reduce gun violence.”
In June 2022, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler introduced “Safer Summer PDX” — a plan to address the historical rise in gun violence seen in the summer months. Eighteen organizations were reportedly given $2.4 million to help execute that plan.
“What we know is that we were really worried about a spike in gun violence over the summer, given the trends from 2021,” Freeman said. “We know that we didn’t have that spike.”
On Monday, a student was shot and injured next to Jefferson High School. It was the second shooting outside the school within a month.
Freeman says organizations the community safety division contracts with showed up at the school the next morning doing street-level outreach, something she says they do every day across the city.
A key part of all prevention programs is being able to build trust, according to Freeman.
“This type of community-based intervention relies on credible messengers,” Freeman stated. “Who are people in these groups going to trust? Who do they listen to? Who do they respect?”