PPB response to 911 calls ‘isn’t what we wish it to be’


Advice when calling 911: 'Be specific, persistent, call back'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Jeanette Leach was at her Northeast Portland home Saturday afternoon when gunfire erupted. Surveillance video captured the sound of the bullets as one of them struck her car and flattened a tire.

Jeanette Leach’s car and tire were damaged by gunfire in NE Portland, September 7, 2021 (KOIN)

“Right then there was ‘pop pop pop,'” Leach told KOIN 6 News. “As I got to the door at that point in time I saw the guy with the ski mask I realized it was for sure gunfire.”

Her 12-year-old daughter Alayna said it was very scary. ” I kind of froze and then my mom told me to get back inside the house and get in the back room.”

This is the same incident Adam Johnson talked about with KOIN 6 News on Monday. He heard a red vehicle speed down the street and stop at the stop sign. A man got out of the car and began yelling at the people in the white car behind him.

Johnson ran to get his kids out of harm’s way.

The scene was caught on home surveillance video. Johnson said there were 2 things not caught on camera, though — a third car behind the white car and “2 small children in the back of the white car, which was also disturbing.”

Jeanette Leach’s car and tire were damaged by gunfire in NE Portland, September 7, 2021 (KOIN)

Leach and other neighbors wonder why it took Portland police more than 30 minutes to respond to their calls about the gunfire in a residential neighborhood in broad daylight.

PPB Lt. Greg Pashley said their staffing issues — down 150 officers compared to last year — plays a big role.

“We’ve been saying for months that our response to lots of things isn’t what we wish it would be,” Pashley said.

He said 911 calls get prioritized based on the information dispatchers receive from callers. In this case, he said, the first caller reported hearing gunshots with no one hurt. It wasn’t until more calls came in later — with evidence of bullet casings and Leach’s car damaged by a bullet — that the priority to respond increased.

“So I would say: Be specific, be persistent and call back,” Pashley said.

But he also said shootings like this aren’t always solved soon.

“People who continue with this violent behavior in our neighborhoods are apt to eventually get caught. It just doesn’t happen as fast as we wish that it would, especially if you’re the person who’s standing there hearing or seeing this happen,” he said.

Pashley doesn’t claim to have all the answers but said a strong police force, paired with social services to disrupt the cycle of crime, should certainly be part of the solution.

Jeanette Leach said she was really proud of her tight knit neighborhood making sure to check on one another after the gunfire.

“The first thing that I noticed was that we were that community. and I think that’s really important.”

Her daughter put it another way.

“There were a lot of tears, but I eventually calmed down,” Alayna said. “It happened, it’s over. but hopefully it just doesn’t happen again.”

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