Portland mayor announces plan to curb gun violence this summer

This is a new program that was announced by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Thursday to curb a potential increase in violence this summer Thursday morning.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 7:54 PM PDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV)— It’s called ‘Portland Ceasefire.’

This is a new program that was announced by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Thursday to curb a potential increase in violence this summer Thursday morning. The mayor said the goal of this initiative is to unify the community, law enforcement, and other government partners to make city streets safer.

“Portlanders deserve to feel safe in their communities,” Wheeler said. “I’m here to say that we hear you and we’re dedicated to bringing accountability for the harm you endure and intervening to prevent others from feeling that same pain.”

The city is partnering with the National Institute of Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) to implement ‘Portland Ceasefire.’ He said this national non-profit that works to reduce violence and incarceration, has proposed similar successful gun violence reduction plans in Oakland and Stockton, California.       The basis of this plan is focused deterrence which means meeting with individuals or groups in person that might be at high risk of violence. Then establish a direct line of communication with individuals. The program will also offer services like relocating people to safer locations, completing a diploma, and finding a job. The number of case managers with the Office of Violence and Prevention will double from 12 to 24. NICJR’s role will be to help police better understand weekly shooting data. There will also be multi-million dollar investments into community-based organizations, like Portland Opportunities and Industrialization Center (POIC).

“We know cease-fire uses credible messages,” Roy Moore, POIC’s Core Director of the Community Care Team, said. “We know credible messengers are people that have lived experiences that come from the community and are most affected in helping somebody change their lives.”

Moore works with the POIC outreach teams that are going out and building connections with the community. He said the grant they received will help expand the number of credible messengers on staff. President and CEO of POIC, Joe McFerrin said this money will also help support their staff.

“We want to make sure that they have all the information necessary to be as effective as they possibly can and that includes supporting them through things like mental health,” McFerrin said.

However, not everyone is on board with the plan. Sam Sachs, Director of The No Hate Zone, said the city should have looked for organizations within the Rose City to create a plan that will curb gun violence.

“I don’t see how an organization that’s not from here, that’s going to come in and be able to connect with people that are in the streets or involved in gun violence when we already have Black and brown organization leaders that have been doing the work,” Sachs said.

He said starting over with a new program, and not continuing with one like Safer Summer PDX, only sets the city back.

“[We need] to put a plan together that we can address daily, weekly, and monthly. While also building on the relationships that we already have and making new relationships,” Sachs said.

McFerrin said he welcomes outside ideas.

“In our organization, we believe in learning from others because we don’t believe we have all the answers,” McFerrin said.