PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “Another frustrating and sad weekend in Portland,” is how Portland Police Association President Aaron Schmautz characterized the past few days.
There were deadly shootings and crashes, including one around 2 a.m. Sunday when a teenage girl was shot in the head. In that case, the girl is expected to recover. That shooting was in the area where city commissioners put traffic barrels to stop drive-by shootings.
Another shooting in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood was ruled a murder-suicide of a wife and husband.
And a number of collisions included a fatal crash on North Columbia near Peninsular that left one young man dead and 6 others, including 3 kids, hurt.
There were so many calls for help PPB went into only taking “high priority” calls at times.
“All of these things are a huge drain on our resources. Even more unheard are the everyday crime victims who are calling police and not having their calls answered when we have to go to priority calls only,” Schmautz said. “We need to be able to respond to all these calls. People need to feel supported by police.”
So far in 2022, there have been 479 shootings in Portland causing 151 injuries and killing 31. Overall there have been 33 homicides in the city — 4 more than at this same time in 2021, which set an all-time homicide record for the city.
Schmautz said FBI guidelines suggest the Portland Police Bureau should have about 800 more employees than they do at this time. Many have left in the last 2 years and PPB officials said more could leave soon.
“In the early ’90s we had large hiring groups as a result of staffing issues then. All of those large hiring groups are getting to the point where they’re starting to age out,” Schmautz said. “July is going to be a very large group.”
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, City Commissioner Carmen Rubio said:
“Over my fifteen months on the Council, I’ve taken steps to ensure nights like Friday do not happen. The Portland Police Bureau has vacancies, and I’ve consistently supported recruitment, which the bureau is doing. I fought for, and the Mayor is now proposing, a huge increase in the number of unarmed officers – so lower level offenses can be handled and armed officers can handle the situations that actually require an armed officer. An effective public safety system means not only the right number of public safety professionals, but also the right kinds of public safety professionals responding when Portlanders need them. Striking that balance is how we stop systemic overload from happening.”