Gang violence in Portland breaks record

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -– Gang violence in the City of Portland has surpassed the most recent all-time high, according to Portland Police Bureau.

On Wednesday, Sgt. Pete Simpson announced the Gang Enforcement Team responded to 121 incidents of gang violence so far this year.

“It’s the highest that we’ve had since we’ve been keeping records,” Gang Enforcement Team Lt. Mike Krantz said.

The overwhelming majority of these incidents involved gunfire, police said.

During a meeting Wednesday night at King School Park — the site of a shooting last week — community members discussed ways to help combat the violence.

“We need more people in the parks, hanging out in them, then it will change things,” parent Adura Duran said. “But if everybody hides in their house then it’s not going to change.”

Police and neighbors at the meeting said it will take a community effort to turn things around.

Despite this year’s increase, the bureau said it is not possible to accurately compare 2015 to the mid-1990s, when gang violence was “rampant.”

The Tactical Operations Division – which houses the gang unit, Gun Task Force and Metro Gang Task Force – has seized 137 firearms as evidence in criminal cases from 2015.Last week, KOIN 6 News first reported the city had tied the previous record from acts of gang violence in 2012.

The bureau released the following statistics for yearly total incidents of gang violence:

2011 – 103

2012 – 118

2013 – 106

2014 – 109

2015 – 121 (as of Sep. 1, 2015)

Police Chief Lawrence P. O’Dea, III said, “there are still a number of unsolved shootings and we continue to see a high level of gang activity. We are working with our youth violence prevention partners and we are asking community members to come forward with information as well as support local city and community efforts to prevent gang and gun violence.”

Crime Stoppers of Oregon offers cash rewards of up to $1,000 for information brought to their attention that leads to an arrest in any unsolved felony. Tipsters can remain anonymous.

The Portland Police Bureau began keeping track of gang violence statistics in 1998.KOIN 6 News reporter Jennifer Dowling contributed to this report

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