PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Following a week-long emergency declaration and more unrest throughout the city, PPB Chief Chuck Lovell held a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Lovell addressed the increases to both gun violence and traffic fatalities in the greater Portland region as well as rioting. He was first asked about the creation of an upcoming Focused Intervention Team the bureau plans to roll in response to increased gun violence.
“We’re in the process of figuring out where we’re going to get the resources for that team,” he said. “As you know, our request for funding for that team did not go through. …We want to be mindful of how we build that team, though. We want there to be an appropriate amount of community input and things of that nature.”
Lovell said the bureau is dealing with limited resources for not only gun violence prevention, but for quelling violence that pops up regularly downtown. Last week, there was an unlawful assembly in downtown on Tuesday and a riot in Northwest Portland on Friday. Arrests were made in each event.
Lovell said the destruction is hurting the people rioters claim to be fighting for.
“That remains a point of frustration for me and people in the community,” he said. “Churches, Boys and Girls Club damaged. …We’re going to do our best to respond to those.”
“Victims of other crimes have to wait,” he cautioned.
Mayor Ted Wheeler allowed the State of Emergency to end on Monday, but his office also said the mayor reserves the right to reinstate it should the conditions warrant it.
“I’ve met with District Attorney, US Attorney, Sheriff and others who all agree they too will take actions to hold law violators accountable,” Wheeler said at his press conference Friday. “Our job is to unmask them, arrest them and prosecute them.”
The mayor encouraged community members to call the police if they have license plate numbers or evidence about the people participating in the destruction.
At the media availability Tuesday, Lovell also said the bureau is preparing for May Day in Portland, a day that usually involves free speech events and protests.
“We fully support people’s right to go out and exercise their free speech, we just ask that they do it in a manner that doesn’t include destruction and violence or any criminal acts. The district attorney’s come out and he’s been clear that he will look to prosecute cases where there are people committing crimes like arson, assaults and criminal mischief,” he said.
Lovell was out of state on vacation when on Friday, April 16, a Portland Police Bureau officer fatally shot a man in Lents Park. Police said the man, Robert Delgado, 46, was holding what looked like a handgun. Investigators later determined it was a replica handgun.
When word of the shooting spread, many in Portland questioned why the Portland Street Response Team did not respond to the incident. Initially, police said the team doesn’t respond to calls with a weapon.
KOIN 6 News asked Lovell if he’d ever consider allowing Portland Street Response or other mental health experts to respond alongside officers for incidents where a subject is holding a weapon.
“I think street response is probably geared to lower-threat-type calls,” he said. “I do think there is room for co-responder models. I just think we have to implement it in a manner, one that doesn’t put people in unnecessary harm.”
KOIN also asked Lovell if the Enhanced Community Safety Team has knowingly prevented any shootings from occurring since it started in March. He said it’s hard to say, but he said they’ve been doing good investigative work that he believes will contribute to the prevention of shootings.