PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A new report released Saturday from Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office says that not only have homicides and shootings skyrocketed in Portland since 2019, but that on average, those suspected of committing the acts have been arrested many times before.
The report, titled Portland Homicide Problem Analysis, focused on an ongoing wave of gun violence plaguing the Rose City. At the end of 2021, Portland’s crime rate surprised even the police, who have said they are struggling with an understaffed, demoralized force. The city logged more than 1,000 shootings in 2021 and shattered a homicide record set in 1987.
Saturday’s study was compiled by researchers from the California Partnership for Safe Communities, who broke down the demographics in homicides and non-fatal shootings that took place in Portland over a span of about 2.5 to 3 years. Researchers compared the age, race, gender and more of suspects and victims in 117 homicides and 314 shootings from the timeframe.
Graphed data from the report shows a near-vertical incline in the city’s rate of homicides — a 144% increase in killings from January 2019 to June 2021. Even more extreme, the number of non-fatal shootings more than tripled over three years, rising 241% from January 2019 to December 2021.
Researchers compared Portland to five cities identified as being similar “peers” — Minneapolis, Atlanta, San Francisco, Denver and Nashville. Portland had nearly double the increase in homicide rate of Minneapolis, the report said, and more than nine times that of Nashville.
“This report confirms the unfortunate reality that we already knew,” Wheeler wrote in an attached release, laying blame to a “very small percentage of our population” that he says is driving the violence.
Data from the report also shows that a wide majority of suspects in homicides (71.6%) and non-fatal shootings (76.6%) had been involved in the criminal justice system before, with more than half of them being previously convicted felons.
On average, homicide suspects had been arrested about 6 times prior to killing their victims, a large amount of whom also had documented criminal records, the report said.
Suspects in the shootings had, on average, been arrested 8 times previously.
The report did not detail exactly which crimes had led to each suspect’s arrest, but said most were for property, drug, disorder and unarmed violent offenses.
Other findings in the report:
- Most homicide suspects and victims were white, 45.9% and 46% respectively.
- Most suspects and victims in non-fatal shootings were African-American, 57.9% and 49.2% respectively.
- The vast majority (86.1%) of both suspects and victims in the shootings and homicides were men.
- About 68% of suspects in the shootings and 62% of homicide suspects were between the ages of 18 and 34, and that same demographics constituted about half of the respective victims.
To read the 60-slide report in full, click here.