PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After a spate of shootings outside Portland high schools, the school district is hiring police officers to be present at sporting events.
The latest shooting took place in the parking lot of Franklin High School during a basketball game in early January. One person was injured and a 15-year-old boy, who was already wanted on an unrelated warrant, was booked for unlawful firearm possession.
The incident, which happened around 7:40 p.m. on Jan. 7, took place during a men’s basketball game when a Portland police officer who was assigned to the school heard the shots and called for help.
Marshall Haskins, the senior director of athletics for Portland Public Schools, says the administration determines weekly if they think police officers are needed at a game.
“We were inside, everything inside was going probably as well as it could go,” Haskins said. “And then in one moment, it’s bedlam.” Video from the Portland Interscholastic League Showcase at Franklin High shows fans and players rushing to the doors after hearing gunfire.
Haskins explained why the district decided back in October that they would hire police officers for the showcase.
“It was cross-district, citywide kids — I mean, kids, families [were] coming from all over,” he said.
Haskins tells KOIN 6 News that hiring police officers to be present at certain games isn’t new. The decision to do so is usually made a week in advance after he and other administrators have a weekly meeting held every Friday.
“We’ve been doing those risk assessments for 24 years,” Haskins stated. “I’ve been involved in athletics at Portland Public Schools and it’s important because [the] safety of our participants, [the] safety of our spectators — it’s number one.”
Aaron Schmautz with the Portland Police Association says it’s important that schools and local authorities work in collaboration to keep kids safe and on the right path.
“It’s so, so important that if we’re gonna actually keep these kiddos both safe and off a pathway towards violence, towards issues, towards a criminal justice system, that we’re working together,” the police union president said. “The only way to do that is for law enforcement to be at the table.”
Schmautz says when the district decided to do away with the school resource officer program back in 2020, there was still an agreement in place that the district could hire officers to work events.
Haskins, meanwhile, says it has to be a large-scale approach because PPS alone is not going to solve gun violence. While he admittedly isn’t an expert in community safety, he believes violence prevention, at least in part, needs to start early.
“Ninety-nine out of a hundred times kids that are shooting and getting shot at are not kids that are engaged in pro-social activity. So, how do we provide more of those kinds of things for young people at an earlier age?” Haskins wondered aloud.
At this time, the district says it has no immediate plans to bring school resource officers back on campus.