PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Outgoing Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese is offering a less-than-rosy parting message to the community.

After an op-ed in the Oregonian, Reese reiterated to KOIN 6 News on Friday that the sheriff called on the community to “re-invest” in law enforcement and preventative policing at a time when shootings have risen to record highs in Portland.

In his final years leading the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Reese described the rising violence on Portland’s streets that he’s observed and noted, at times, law enforcement is subjected to it too.

“In the 30 years I’ve been in public safety service, I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” Reese said.

He said the number of firearms present in encounters that police officers are finding themselves in is “incredible.”

“In the past, it would have been unusual for us to have a suspect carrying a firearm on a traffic stop or in a criminal event that we’re investigating — and now it’s really frequent. Our deputy sheriffs are finding firearms in so many of their encounters,” Reese said. “People have a willingness, unfortunately, to use violence in this community at an unprecedented rate.”

When it comes to homicides and shootings, he estimates about half of it is group or gang violence. But he says there are many issues the community is facing now.

“We’re having challenges in our community right now with gun violence, homicides that are at an all-time high, too many traffic fatalities and overdose deaths. We have liveability concerns in almost every neighborhood in the city of Portland,” Reese said.

He says funding for law enforcement makes communities safer — pointing to the success of their gun dispossession unit.

“It’s time for us to invest in our public safety professionals that are a foundational component that keeps us safe. And our public safety professionals, the men and women in uniform, police officers and deputy sheriffs, have dedicated their lives to protecting and serving some at personal risk to themselves. And I really feel strongly that we need to support and encourage them in this difficult work,” Reese said.

According to police data, there were 65 homicides in August 2021. The Portland Police Bureau tells KOIN 6 News there have been 57 so far in 2022.

Sheriff Reese said in addition to thinking leaders should be using funds to invest in men and women in uniform, they should also be investing in “upstream” solutions.

MCSO says they are offering hiring incentives focused on lateral corrections deputies and deputy sheriffs. Lateral candidates are eligible for a $5,000 signing bonus.

The sheriff’s office also has a hiring event on September 8.

In a statement to KOIN 6 News on Thursday, Reese said, “like many other law enforcement agencies across the country, we are facing staffing challenges and are aggressively recruiting new people. This is a great time to start a career with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. We are looking for courageous and compassionate people to join our team.”