PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Portland Police Bureau tells KOIN 6 News their new Focused Intervention Team will hit the streets in eight days.
It’s designed to prevent shootings, like the controversial Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT) that disbanded a year and a half ago.
Right now, the Focused Intervention Team is busy training. KOIN 6 got a firsthand look at one of their first classes–learning how to treat someone who’s just been shot.
“The number one thing this team will be doing is responding to shootings in progress,” Sergeant Kenneth Duilio said.
Duilio, who is leading the team, explains they’ll have a tough job.
“I absolutely think the FIT team will make a difference, but, one of my concerns with the community, media, our elected officials- is, we kinda have to make sure expectations are not beyond capabilities. Like, we just went through 18 months of the worst gun violence the city has ever seen. We’ve never had this many homicides,” Duilio said.
And not even two weeks into the new year, police say there have been three homicides -all from guns.
KOIN 6 asked Duilio how the members are feeling now.
“Initially, no one put in. No one wanted to do this job. Like, ‘are we supported? It’s super dangerous physically? It’s dangerous politically? It’s dangerous career wise? Are we gonna have the support and backing?’” Duilio explained.
He says the members are starting to feel the support of elected officials, including the mayor.
On Eye on NW Politics, Ken Boddie asked the mayor how this team will be different than GVRT.
“So what’s different about the Focused Intervention Team is we have a community oversight group that’s been impaneled now for the last six months. They work alongside the leadership of the Portland Police Bureau around hiring, around retention, around policy,” Mayor Wheeler said.
As for the recruits themselves, Duilio said the diverse group has one common goal, “these are incredible, passionate, caring people and really came down to they can’t stand standing by and not being involved in the bureau’s effort to reduce gun violence.”