PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The president of the Portland Police Association believes a bad policy decision is to blame for a record-breaking rash of shootings over the last three months in the Rose City.
Data from the Portland Police Bureau shows 341 shootings were recorded in Portland from the start of July through the end of September. There have already been 12 confirmed shootings just over a week into October, three of which were deadly. In comparison, the city saw 393 shootings during the entire year of 2019.
Daryl Turner, the president of the Portland police union, believes the startling spike is the result of the Portland City Council’s decision to dissolve the PPB’s Gun Violence Reduction Team in June.
In the midst of nationwide protests for racial justice after the death of George Floyd, the GVRT came under fire for allegedly targeting members of the Black community.
City councilors decided to cut the GVRT, along with $15 million from the PPB’s budget for the next fiscal year. Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty worked to win support for getting rid of the GVRT, school resource officers, Transit Police and 8 SERT officers.
“For any commissioner, any elected officials who’s not a subject-matter expert whose never even been trained in police tactics or studied police tactics or even went through a citizens’ academy to learn something about police tactics—for them to be able to weigh in and say they were race profiling, they were biased in their proactive policing is wrong and we can see the results of that,” said Turner.
In June, City Council said it planned to redirect the police budget cuts money toward social programs and investments in the community that help Black and other minority youth, as well as move towards a pilot program of EMTs and mental health workers to respond to 911 calls that don’t require an armed officer.
A little more than a month after the GVRT was defunded, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he planned to put together a new team to combat gun violence in the city.
Turner said the GVRT was renowned nationwide and police departments across the country came to Portland to study the team. He said the GVRT’s considerably low numbers when it came to use of force were of particular interest to other police departments, who hoped to mirror the team’s success.
Hardesty had originally said the money that funded the GVRT would be used to create a street response unit—but such a unit hasn’t yet materialized. KOIN 6 News has reached out to her office and is waiting for a reply.