PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The results of a 3-month pilot program using traffic barrels to reduce gun violence in one Portland neighborhood have shown “promising results,” Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said Tuesday.
Hardesty and Commissioner Carmen Rubio were joined by Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood chair Matchu Williams in a walking tour Tuesday morning. After the walking tour finished at the Mt. Scott Community Center, the three answered questions about the effectiveness of the pilot project.
In October, Hardesty ordered the Portland Bureau of Transportation to install the traffic-calming devices — traffic barrels — across a 6-block area in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood plagued by shootings, some of which have been linked to high-speed drivers.
Prior to the pilot project’s launch, there was nearly a 250% increase in 911 calls from the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood related to shootings from 2020-2021.
Workers installed 8 traffic barrels near Southeast Woodstock Street and 72nd Avenue as an initial phase of the project. Crews later added another 18 barrels.
Watch the full press conference below
Calling it a team effort, Hardesty thanked Portland police, park rangers and others in the neighborhood for their work. Shootings were down in the neighborhood 64% in the last 3 months, but she said it’s not a success yet. At the same time, shootings citywide have stayed flat.
“I want to be first to caution you however, and make it very clear: These are promising results but we cannot determine this a success from such a small-scale pilot and data set,” Hardesty said.
Williams, who lives in the neighborhood, said “The ratio of actual, confirmed gunfire exchanges just plummeted after this initial program and the investments into the community.”
“Working together with neighbors to implement their ideas, PBOT installed 18 temporary low-cost traffic barrels, with a 6-by-6 block radius where the combination of gun violence and related speed were most prominent,” Hardesty said. “We knew the simple act of installing traffic barrels alone would not make a significant impact on gun violence.”
She noted there is also better lighting along with more patrols by police and park rangers.
Rubio said it is another element to a comprehensive approach to the violence.
“Traffic barrels and other calming measures. Better lighting in parks. And more friendly, well-informed park rangers acting as the eyes on the ground,” she said. “Which is why I’m requesting more funding as part of the annual budget process.”