Turner: Gun violence surge ‘directly related to defunding police’

Multnomah County

City leaders insist the escalation in gun violence isn't due to the disbanding of the PPB's Gun Violence Reduction Team

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland continues to see a record number of shootings, some in broad daylight. The head of the Portland Police Association fears the city is on the brink of a gang war.

On Wednesday afternoon, a man was shot and killed near the corner of NE 118th Avenue and NE Sandy Boulevard. Witnesses told KOIN 6 News they heard 12 to 14 gunshots before they saw two cars speed away from the area.

Hours later, a man and a woman were shot on NE MLK Boulevard near Bryant Street. Both were hospitalized.

PPA Executive Director Daryl Turner says he hasn’t seen this kind of gun violence in Portland since the 1990s. City officials say the uptick mirrors the increase in gun violence nationwide.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said the rise in shootings is completely unrelated to the disbanding of the Portland Police Bureau’s Gun Violence Reduction Team. Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt has pointed to the pandemic as being a contributing factor but Turner disagrees.

“Our elected leaders can no longer turn a blind eye to this and blame this on the pandemic,” Turner said. “It is directly related to the defunding of police, the defunding of our staffing levels, defunding of units such as the Gun Violence Reduction Team, defunding of our staffing levels that have made us anemic, made us to the point where we can’t even respond to calls for service in a timely manner.”

In addition to the newly-formed Enhanced Community Safety Team that works to solve gun crimes after they happen, Portland police are currently working with community partners to create a patrol unit called the “Focused Intervention Team.” But the PPB says it’s difficult to find a way to staff the team due to already limited resources. It’s yet another reason why Turner says more funding is needed in order to curb gun violence.

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