PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In an exclusive one-on-one interview with KOIN 6 News, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt answered questions about hot topics, including another round of destructive vandalism late Tuesday night in downtown Portland.
Schmidt, 41, has been a central figure in the media as Portland grapples with issues of vandalism, gun violence, record-setting homicides, rising crime and homelessness. The job comes with its share of criticism.
Some of the criticism comes from people having a perception he’s not doing enough to prosecute those accused of damage in the demonstrations, including the window-smashing and graffiti of Tuesday night.
“We look at every case individually. We’ll assess it for its viability and if we have the evidence we need. And then we would still prosecute that case,” Schmidt told KOIN 6 News. “It’s still something we attempt to do, we don’t want that damage in the community, so we do that. But when I’m looking at how to allocate our limited resources, I’m putting more deputy DAs, more prosecutors into our gun violence units.”
A lot of the gun violence recently, he said, comes down to domestic violence, conflicts that escalate and gang violence.
“As a whole of all the cases we’re seeing — this is my unscientific assessment — it feels like a third or more would be attributed to (gang violence.) Then we see a third or more that I would categorize as maybe an altercation that exploded with other conditions, like substance use or mental health or issues like that,” he said.
He said the other third was a variety of factors, including domestic violence.
Schmidt added he wants to see more investigative resources. Asked if that means more police officers, he sidestepped the question. That, he said, is a question for city leaders and PPB Chief Chuck Lovell.
But he did say Portland needs more services such as Portland Street Response and he talked a lot about the need for community services.
“What I want to see is investigatory resources put toward this issue. I think we need more investigatory resources put toward gun violence. We need to solve these crimes. I want to be clear though — police and prosecution, we are a piece of the greater picture,” he said.