PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – With homicides and shootings soaring to record levels in Portland, police have a new team on the streets designed to get a handle on the growing crisis.

Since the start of 2022, the Focused Intervention Team — also known as FIT — has been tasked with a dangerous job at a time when Portland police officers are facing threats, violence and a lot of pressure put on this group to get a handle on the growing gun violence crisis in Portland.

The formation of the FIT came after the controversial decision by City Hall to disband the Gun Violence Reduction Team. After violence grew, community members criticized the city for not investing in police.

While the Enhanced Community Safety Team was formed after GVRT was disbanded to help investigate, FIT is often the team responding to shootings and getting out in the community to hopefully prevent them.

Adi Ramic is a 12-year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau. During that time, he’s seen a lot of changes to the city.

“Now, it’s so much more dangerous than it’s ever been. Portland used to be one of my favorite cities,” Ramic said.

In his role with the newly-formed Focused Intervention Team, Officer Ramic says they hear gunshots on their shift — and sometimes those shots are fired at them.

“I was recently involved in a shooting. I was shot at. By the grace of God, I didn’t die, where I probably should have, I got lucky. It’s changed my perspective on life and police work,” Ramic said. “To me, now that someone officially tried to shoot me, it’s very different than someone saying, yelling at you that they’re going to hurt you. Most of the time it doesn’t happen, now in my head, I’m thinking about it now.”

Ramic says he feels lucky none of his colleagues have been hit by bullets.

“The fact that we haven’t had a cop shot and killed in a long time is amazing,” Ramic said. “It’s literally like we’re playing the lottery. You wonder, ‘is it going to be me? It is going to my buddies?’”

As a Bosnian immigrant, he remembers living through their civil war, sometimes going from shooting call to shooting call reminds him of being surrounded by that violence.

“I expect it during wartime, but in a civilized country like this?” Ramic wondered aloud.

Now, he and his colleagues are tasked with trying to intervene in that violence.

Part of the bureau’s strategy of having the team is to provide a uniformed police presence in the city, including patrols. Their goal is to get illegally owned guns off the streets.

In total, the bureau says by early October, the team of 12 officers and two sergeants responded to nearly 1,800 calls, made 139 arrests, seized 33 guns and responded to 126 shootings.

The team patrols areas where the shootings are concentrated.

KOIN 6 News rode along with the team through parts of the city where there have been recent homicides — the most recent just hours earlier.

During the ride along, a KOIN 6 News crew saw the team make a number of stops.

“We’re going to pull over a car, a guy picked up a potential prostitute,” Ramic said during the ride along.

Ramic and other members of the team said the person they pulled over has several IDs that don’t match, multiple phones, cash and had their car outfitted to look like a police car.

The driver was arrested and then released. Meanwhile, the woman he picked up was given resources.

Another stop is for a traffic infraction. That car was let off with a warning.

Officer Ramic said the team often responds to calls together.

“This is our team, when we’re all in the same area, when you let them know ‘hey something is off,’” Ramic explained, “If everyone is close by, they would all stop by.”

As the night continues, they head to patrol another area.

“We gave this area quite a bit of attention. Driving back and forth, we pulled over some people, they see the lights in the area, we’ve shown a presence… now we’re going to go to the Mall 205 area that also had a shooting last night where someone got killed. We’re going to drive around [looking] around for people who are doing what we’re not supposed to,” Ramic said.

As they continue to make stops and drive around, Ramic says you never know what to expect when they pull someone over.

“The gentleman I was involved in a shooting with, he just had warrants… he decided to shoot at me and my coworkers. Some of these people, you might just pull them over because their license plate is expired, but you just don’t know who this person is or what they think I know. They might try to run or fight me. Or they might just pull over like that last guy,” Ramic explained.

At a time when law enforcement’s job has possibly never been more dangerous in Portland, Ramic says returning to the specialized shooting team after being shot at was a tough discussion to have with his family — but says he plans to stick with the Focused Intervention Team and the bureau.

“It was beyond hard, to be honest,” he said. “My wife and mom and sister all wanted me to quit. It was traumatic for the whole family. They know my job is dangerous. But I’ve never come home and said, ‘I almost died.’ They weren’t happy with it. They want me to do a different job. But I love this job, I’m not planning on going anywhere.

According to the bureau, there have been more than 1,000 shootings in 2022 so far, which have injured more than 300 people and killed 69. In total, they said there have been 84 homicides, putting Portland roughly on pace with 2022.