PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For the past several years, Portland has seen record or near-record numbers of homicides and traffic fatalities. New Portland Police Bureau Chief Bob Day said he doesn’t want the community to become numb to the loss of life.
“I don’t ever want to lose sight of the gravity of what we’re talking about, the loss of life and the sanctity of life,” Day said.
Meeting with the press on Monday, Day noted the downward trend in homicides but said it’s not “a celebratory kind of mood” when there are still many people being killed in the city.
On Sunday, Portland recorded its 60th homicide of the year when a woman was found shot to death at Cathedral Park.
When officers were first sent to the scene around 4:52 a.m. They arrived at 5:15 a.m. but couldn’t find the crime scene. Officers were sent again about 25 minutes later and found the victim at that point.
Day did not address the specifics of this response but said he is working the the Bureau of Emergency Communications to find ways to improve response times by officers.
“I think that there’s some space in there for us to be able to improve our call times and become more responsive,” Day said. “But there are some system issues there for us to work through to better understand it.”
It’s the first homicide in the neighborhood since 2021. At this point last year, Portland had recorded 96 homicides.
“We are engaged, we are aware of these challenges,” Day said. “There is no panacea, no immediate quick fix. But I am definitely committed to minimizing these incidents going forward, both externally and internally, to do that.”
Though homicides are down, traffic fatalities are on pace to surpass last year’s highest total in 3 decades. Two 19-year-old men were killed on MAX train tracks after crashing their car and getting out onto the tracks.
So far in 2023, there have been 60 traffic-related deaths, up from 54 at this point a year ago, according to PPB data.
Day said he is speaking with the Oregon State Police about expanding the partnership the agencies have on drug-related missions and expanding that for traffic as well. He’s also talking with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and Gresham Police about security on TriMet platforms.
“All of us are unified in our approach, recognizing the need in Multnomah County for a cohesive strategy where we support one another,” he said.