PORTLAND, Ore (KOIN) — Police data shows gun violence is on the rise in Gresham. The city has passed several new crime initiatives that they are hoping will bring the numbers down.
According to Gresham City Manager Nina Vetter, the trend in gun violence has disproportionately impacted teenagers.
“We’ve seen an increase in gun violence that unfortunately is really impacting our youth, as young as thirteen years old,” Vetter said. “And we know when we see gun violence, we often see retaliatory gun violence.”
As an expansion of the city’s new overt camera program, Gresham City Council agreed to add increased lighting in parking lots near areas with high crime rates last week. They also plan to hire two street-level outreach personnel to provide trauma-informed support for victims of gun violence.
In addition to supporting victims, Vetter thinks the new roles will, “…hopefully reduce the potential for retaliatory gun violence, because we are intervening right after the incident has occurred — trying to be as responsive as possible.”
This comes as the city sees a spike in shootings. According to police data, 175 shootings were reported in Gresham in 2021. This year’s numbers have already topped that, with 195 reported shootings so far.
In May 2022, two men died near the intersection of SE 190th Avenue and Yamhill Street, after two separate shootings took place just a week apart from each other. Gresham police said both suspects in those cases were juveniles.
Mi Pueblo restaurant is just down the road from the crimes. Waiter and bartender Nelson Steven Zepeda said the rise in violent crime has had a negative impact on business.
“We’re on a busy street and when you see things like that, like gang violence and homelessness, it’s hard to get people to come in,” Zepeda said. “And we’re a little bit struggling right now because people don’t want to go out as much because of the violence.”
In regards to the new crime reduction and safety initiatives, he said, “Anything they can do to try and help us out would be really appreciated — especially for all of the businesses around here.”