PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The TriMet bus driver who was shot Saturday night is the latest victim in Portland’s ongoing struggle with increased gun violence.
With the number of shootings climbing in Portland, there’s a debate among residents and officials on how to deal with these crimes. There are people who want to continue to defund the police in larger amounts and to give more money instead to social justice or community programs. Others argue eliminating the Gun Violence Reduction Team may have hindered the city’s ability to handle all the shootings.
Commissioner Mingus Mapps told KOIN 6 News Sunday that he feels the city can do both, move forward with police reform and keep Portlanders safe at the same time. He compared it to walking while chewing gum and says he’s optimistic.
“I think we struck a pretty good balance between this budget. We took a slight cut in the overall size of the police budget but at the same time, we are going to be able to bring on 30 more police officers in the next year and we will have more unarmed police officers out on the streets helping Portlanders,” he said.
Mapps also said the city has increased the number of park rangers so public spaces are safer. The city has also increased the number of unarmed officers and has made huge investments in violence prevention programs.
The bus driver who was shot in the shoulder while driving Saturday is expected to make a full recovery, TriMet said in a statement. TriMet said it is reeling from the fact that one of its employees was shot while serving the community.
“Our hearts go out to him and his family during this difficult time.
“We appreciate the care and support he received from first responders, Portland Police officers and the staff at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. Our operator was struck by a bullet that went through the windshield of his bus at NE 102nd & Halsey. We urge anyone with information about the shooting to contact Portland Police,” TriMet said in a statement posted on social media.
Portland Police Bureau confirmed the bullet that struck the bus driver traveled from at least two blocks away before it hit the bus windshield. Police do not believe the driver was the intended target of the shooting.
Police say Portland is on pace to set an all-time city record for shootings and the number of people hit and killed by gunfire.