PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and other city officials held a press conference Wednesday discussing the “unacceptable levels of violence and crime” in the city over the last few years.
Wheeler said that he frequently hears from neighbors and community members about how crime impacts their day-to-day lives and how collaboration between the city and law enforcement will be critical moving forward.
“We are determined to make Portland a safe and thriving place for all of us,” Wheeler said. “I can think of nothing more important than collaboration and partnership when we are talking about the safety of the people who live in our communities.”
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell shared similar sentiments and said he was encouraged that the bureau will be able to bring on more staff members in 2023.
“Our justice system is stretched right now and we are facing some difficult times in our city — but it’s never been more important for all the leaders in this system to stand together, work together and ensure we have a seamless partnership to move our city forward,” Lovell said.
With the City of Portland breaking homicide records in both of the last two years, law enforcement has never responded to more violent crimes. But Schmidt says despite the exorbitant amounts of violence in recent years, that they don’t want to let smaller crimes fall through the cracks.
“We are obviously working on a lot of violent crimes in our community, but that doesn’t mean the small stuff can slide. We are working together every single day to figure out how we can tighten up our process, share information [and] follow up on cases,” Schmidt said. “We hear about a perception of lawlessness in Portland, but I can assure you that everyone here today is committed to ending that perception and demonstrating that justice and accountability are not lost.”
Schmidt went on to say MCSO does have challenges, such as the need to invest in more prosecutors and public defenders. But he also stressed that his office needs victims and witnesses of crime to come forward and help them with evidence they need for prosecution, despite their staffing challenges.