PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The team of officers specifically tasked with investigating and preventing shootings will be up and running by late January, according to the Portland Police Bureau.
Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also the city’s police commissioner, directed PPB to create the Focused Intervention Team as a response to what is now a record year for homicides and gun violence.
In 2020, the city chose to dissolve the old team responsible for preventing and investigating shootings, named the Gun Violence Reduction Team.
Much of the debate among city leaders in 2021 has revolved around the role of police and how to fund an understaffed, demoralized police bureau.
Sgt. Kenneth Duilio, FIT’s acting lieutenant, said he has never seen morale at PPB so low.
“For officers in the bureau, we got defunded — school police, TriMet, GVRT — and then we see this rise in crime, it bothers every one of us,” Duilio said. “On top of that, we go through the riots, people yelling awful things toward police. At that time, we didn’t feel support from our elected officials.”
However, on Nov. 17, the Portland City Council unanimously voted to direct millions in funding to PPB from a historically large budget surplus — a move Duilio called “encouraging.”
“Now, you have the mayor and city council trying to refund, right size, support the police bureau,” he said. “It’s encouraging.”
On Friday, Duilio said the bureau has chosen which 12 officers will serve on the new team out of the 46 who applied. By Monday, the PPB announced all 12 officers had been notified they officially have the positions.
The team is now fully staffed with one acting lieutenant, two sergeants and 12 officers. They will hit the streets starting Jan. 19.