PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Multnomah County Local Public Safety Coordinating Council hosted a Countywide Gun Violence Reduction meeting on Wednesday to discuss the rise in crime.
During the meeting, county leaders talked about creating a community oversight committee for the Portland Police Bureau’s new Enhanced Community Safety Team that’s tasked with responding to and investigating shootings. The new team — which includes three police sergeants, 12 officers and six detectives — started responding to calls last week.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said there would be between nine and 12 people on the oversight committee who would meet weekly for updates on law enforcement actions, such as the demographic breakdown of who was stopped and the outcome of those stops.
Erika Preuitt, the director of the Department of Community Justice, is helping to put together the oversight committee. She stressed the importance of the prevention of crime and violence within communities.
“I think what we all have to balance is the interest of reform and changing long-held disparities and historic traumas and the need to keep our communities safe,” said Preuitt, “and what’s that balance when we do that, because when crime increases, it has a negative impact on our BIPOC communities.”
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said there have been 151 shootings so far this year, including 41 that resulted in injuries. Lovell said 21 of the people who were injured were Black. Lovell supports the formation of the new oversight committee.
“I think the pitfalls we’ve run into with this work before it wasn’t communicated well, who was being stopped, why, what the outcomes were. I think we could fix some of that with this potentially,” he said.
Portland Mayer Ted Wheeler said in the meeting he wanted to take more time to consider the details of the proposal and to make sure there were clear guidelines.
“If it turns out the stops data shows disproportionately toward people of color — which I think it probably will, that’s my guess but I don’t know that for a fact — there has to be the opportunity for an interaction between members of the committee and law enforcement to resolve or explain,” said Wheeler.
Law enforcement and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office also brought up the frequency in which the same guns are used several times for different crimes.