Police team tracks guns, aims to ‘interrupt cycle of violence’

Multnomah County

Portland Police Bureau's Enhanced Community Safety Team is closely tracking firearms used in shootings

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As gun violence continues to plague Portland, the newly-formed Enhanced Community Safety Team is carefully tracking the guns used in those shootings as a way of getting repeat offenders off the streets.

Sergeant Kevin Allen with the Portland Police Bureau said the ECST has found during various investigations that the same guns are often being used in multiple crimes and most of those cases are connected to a criminal gang situation.

“The ECST does focus a lot of their attention on these cases where we have a single gun being used in multiple crime scenes,” said Allen. “If they can connect those cases, then it will certainly put a lot of investigative resources toward that.”

Allen said the PPB partners with ATF to track the firearms used in local crimes. Portland police also utilize a system known as “IBIS,” or Automated Firearms Ballistics Technology, to carry out their own analysis. The system allows investigators to track cases quicker because they don’t have to ship evidence to a lab or another agency.

The PPB said on Thursday preliminary data shows there have been 247 non-suicide shootings in 2021 to date with 81 injuries and 22 homicides, 16 of which were the result of gun violence. The numbers are unusually high for the Portland area.

“We know sometimes when shootings happen there could be retaliatory shootings coming,” said Allen. “So our strategy whenever possible is to gather this information and if we can interrupt this cycle of violence, then we want to do that.”

Allen said the guns being used in crimes in the area are obtained in various ways: some are stolen or bought illegally then illegally given to someone else, while others are purchased legally. Community members can do their part to limit gun violence by keeping any firearms they own locked up, Allen said.

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