Portland surpasses homicide record, excluding officer-involved shootings

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Portland's previous record-high number of homicides was 66 in 1987

A KOIN file photo of a taped off police scene.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Police Bureau confirmed to KOIN 6 News Monday that the city of Portland has passed its previous record for the number of homicides reported in a year.

Portland’s previous record-high number of homicides, not counting deadly officer-involved shootings, was 66 in 1987.

On Monday, PPB said the current number of homicides reported in Portland in 2021 is 67. The bureau said 51 of those homicides were the result of shootings.

So far, in 2021, Portland Police Bureau has reported 969 shooting incidents and 307 people who were injured from shootings. PPB clarified that this number of shootings only includes incidents where officers found evidence of a shooting.

Terri Wallo-Strauss, a spokesperson for the bureau, said Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Communications dispatches approximately 125-150 calls for shots fired per week where officers are unable to verify if a shooting took place.

Wallo-Strauss also stressed that the number of shootings in Portland should be considered an estimate until PPB’s data analysts are finished with their work at the end of the month.

The Portland Police Bureau said it doesn’t have a true statistical analysis of the record number of shootings recorded in Portland. The bureau said over the years, it did not record shooting incidents in the way it does now.

The bureau changed its system in 2018 when the Gun Violence Reduction Team was formed and started counting all shootings, including domestic violence shootings, under one umbrella.

“It would be comparing apples to oranges to go back in history,” Wallo-Strauss wrote in an email. “Anecdotally, we can say there were higher shootings in the 1980s, but we can’t provide a true analysis as mentioned.”

Wallo-Strauss said most people who have been with PPB for more than 20 years say they have never seen this level of gun violence.

In 1987, the year marking Portland’s previous highest number of homicides, there were four deadly officer-involved shootings. If those are included, then the number of homicides for that year would be 70.

As of Oct. 11, 2021, Portland police have reported three officer-involved shootings. If those are included, the number of homicides is 70, tying the previous record before the end of the year.

In Seattle, police told KOIN 6 News that as of Sept. 29, 2021, they had reported 33 homicides, less than half the number Portland has recorded in 2021.

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