After slashing gun crime unit in Portland, city sees murder numbers soar

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Portland, Oregon – After the Portland Police got rid of the gun violence reduction team on July 1st, the city also happened to end the month of July with the highest number of homicides they’d had in over 30 years.

Strange how those two aspects managed to coincide in tandem.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler stated in June that he intended to disband the city’s gun violence reduction team, which transpired on the 1st of July.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell noted in the weeks after having to disband the unit, that trouble was brewing in being able to properly investigate shootings:

“The loss of the gun violence reduction team, in particular, has a diminishing effect on how we’re able to investigate shootings, which is some of the most important crimes that we investigate. So we still have to do that work and figuring out how we’re going to do that without the experience that that team had has been a bit of a challenge.”

The city of Portland faced 15 homicides during the month of July this year. It’s been over three decades since the city has seen that number murders in a solitary month. Furthermore, in the past two month, June saw shooting incidents increase by 100% when compared to 2019, and July shooting incidents increased by 125% compared to 2019.

And those shooting incidents are all non-suicide, too.

Also, with little surprise, cases of assaults, burglaries and vandalism have increased in 2020 when compared to 2019. Chief Lovell stated that he’s now having to pull officers from the patrol unit to handle investigations assigned to the detective unit.

Once again – that can spell trouble because the lack of beat cops means that even more crimes of opportunity can transpire if the criminal element is cognizant that resources are drowned currently.

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Since the murder of George Floyd, acts of violence in Portland have become an everyday occurrence. 

Whether the violence is directed toward the police, or at people caught up in the riot, there appears to be no end in sight. On July 31st, reports of over 150 rounds being fired outside of an apartment building came in. 

The rounds struck several apartments, vehicles, and wounded at least one woman. So far no arrests have been made. 

Reports of the shooting came in after 11pm on NE 87th in which 8 occupied apartments, 7 vehicles and one woman were hit. 

On August 2nd, the Portland Police Association released a statement on social media which read:

“East precinct officers have secured the crime scene and determined that more than 150 were fired outside of an apartment building.  One round struck an adult female victim in an arm. 

Responding officers applied a tourniquet and she was transported to the hospital by ambulance with what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries. 

No other injuries have been reported to police, however bullets struck at least 8 occupied apartments and 7 vehicles (unknown if occupied).” 

A neighbor in the area of the shooting, Kemoh Sulimani, told Fox 12 news that the shooting was:

“like rapid fire, pow, pow, pow and where I was sitting a bullet just came flying through directly over my head and lodged on the wall.”    

Sulimani said:

“The first thing by instinct was to hit the floor so I began crawling I turned the lights off I crawled out of my room like baby.” 

Aragon Marks added:

“I looked out my window and right as I looked some gunshots just started erupting.” 

Marks said that he helped the woman who had been shot, stating:

“I ran inside and grabbed my medic bag and I applied a tourniquet to her arm.  It looked like she was shot once and I got the bleeding to stop.”

Marks said that the area he lives in has never been dangerous before recently.  He reported that there was another shooting on July 27th that left a man dead. 

“We don’t feel safe here especially with it happening so crazy here like this and so soon.  You know they shot everywhere, walls that weren’t even by anybody.” 

Unlike the loud voices of the rioters and protesters, both Marks and Sulimani beg the city leaders to put more money into police budgets so this type of crime stops. 

Sulimani said:

“They had like a gang violence task force that are no longer funded which is unfortunate because as soon as that defunding happened all of this really peaked up.”

Marks added:

“This is America and it’s a war zone with 150 shots in an apartment complex close to a Christian university how can we explain that?” 

The Portland Police told Fox 12, that shooting crimes have doubled in the last two months compared to the same time frame last year. 

It’s an increase in numbers which seems to hold true in New York, where they have also defunded portions of the police department. 

At a press conference, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said that there have been 22 reported deaths since May 4th, 15 of those deaths occurred in July alone. 

Lovell said:

“We’re gonna resource some more people to the detective division to help follow up and do some investigation on those, but also we need to focus on doing some proactive work to maybe keep some of these numbers from increasing.”

In a city which is working hard at defunding their police department and trying to reduce officer contacts, it will be interesting to see how Portland is able to follow through on the Chief’s comments on proactive policing and resourcing people to the detective bureau.  Perhaps the dire warnings that many people have been giving on defunding the police equaling a rise in crime are correct.

The Portland Police Bureau is requesting anyone with information that will lead to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the shooting call 503 823-3333.

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