UPDATED 12:45 AM PT – Friday, July 22, 2022
Rising gun-related homicides in Portland, Oregon have spurred a response from Mayor Ted Wheeler (D). Wheeler announced a new initiative to combat rising homicides in the city. During a Thursday press conference, he unveiled the safer summer PDX 2022 which will allocate $2.4 million to helping the local government along with several non-profit organizations in establishing community-focused intervention programs and improve response times to shootings.
Additionally, he said it will re-prioritize work within city bureaus to quell shootings, such as identifying areas where they are the most prevalent and modifying the traffic flow to the area or increasing the lighting. Prior to this, the Democrat mayor cut a significant amount of funds from the city’s police in response to mounting pressure from anti-police activists in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
“Today, I’m presenting a two year evidence based plan called safer summer PDX,” said Wheeler. “This plan is specific and it provides actionable goals to better coordinate existing resources and activates an additional $2.4 million to near-term community based violence interventions.”
Wheeler then went on to outline what he expects his plan will do about the city’s homicide rate.
“Safer summer PDX is accompanied by an emergency declaration that will implement the plan in an agile, accountable, coordinated and fairer manner, reducing Portland’s gun violence by at least 10 percent over the next two years,” he stated.
STATE OF EMERGENCY: Mayor Ted Wheeler’s message directly to those involved in Portland’s gun violence crisis:
“We do not choose the lives that we are born into… We are sincere in wanting to offer you a path out.” pic.twitter.com/bu9xA4Eaq5
— Wesleigh Ogle KATU (@WesleighOgle) July 22, 2022
This comes as Portland experienced a 241 percent increase in non-fatal shootings over the past two years with another study saying the city saw a 144 percent increase in gun-related murders between 2019 and 2021, but Wheeler is promising to bring peace back to the city.
“Until Portland’s gun murders stop, we won’t stop,” he voiced. “We won’t stop until we get justice for more gun violence victims and their families. We won’t stop until we bring peace back to those Portland neighborhoods that are too often caught in the crossfire.”
Wheeler said that because Portland has a decentralized governmental structure, the plan will bring all agencies that can address gun violence together.