PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Police Bureau is grappling with a drastic rise in violent crime and shootings.

Police said there have already been 18 homicides — 13 of which were related to gun violence — in the city of Portland just barely over two months into 2021.

PPB Sergeant Kevin Allen said gang activity is partly to blame for the uptick in shootings, but officers have been responding to various forms of gun violence calls.

Allen said the trend has taken an emotional toll on the officers who are “seeing the impact of this deadly, dangerous violence. It’s terrifying when we go and there’s a house where someone lives and there’s bullets flying through it. The officers are the ones seeing it and the fear in the community. And they want to see that number go down.”

Allen added, “It’s sad. It’s sad to see so many people hurting because of this violent crime.”

Portland police said the new Enhanced Community Safety Team launched in February is helping the bureau investigate these homicides. The new team focuses only on the investigative angle, which sets it apart from the old Gun Violence Reduction Team disbanded in the summer of 2020. The GVRT took a more proactive approach, which involved patrols and contacting people to collect intelligence.

Allen said the community shouldn’t expect the ECST to make an instant impact on shooting statistics.

“Our goal is to make this a piece of a larger puzzle that addresses this particular problem that this city has, that is not just a police problem,” he said. “There needs to be — and there is — a larger collaboration going on between city government and community groups and our community groups that are working together to address this problem.”