On July 21, the mayor of Portland, Ore. declared an emergency over the city’s historically high level of gun violence, the Governing reports. Mayor Ted Wheeler pledged to invest more time and money into working with those at risk. His goal is to reduce shootings by 10 percent over the next two years by increasing community-based intervention. The goal is to reach out to those most likely to plan shootings and those most likely to be victims. About $2.4 million in the city’s budget was set aside to distribute to people and agencies able to influence people at risk. So far in 2022, 52 people have died by homicide in Portland. The city will likely meet or exceed last year’s record-breaking number of 92 homicides.
One part of this plan is to reach out to gang members with “someone who understands that life,” according to Stephanie Howard, the mayor’s community safety director. The city plans to use ex-gang members to connect with current members and persuade them to change their lifestyles. The emergency declaration is also intended to create better connections between city bureaus and offices to better coordinate to boost outreach. According to a statement from the mayor’s office, they are planning to use methods other than law enforcement to reach out to those at risk. Currently, Portland police meet weekly to conduct a review on recent shootings. From the review, people are referred to the city’s Office for Violence Prevention for community support. The mayor hired 16 new police officers, a success amid the recent police shortage. However, the Portland police chief believes this is just one part of addressing the city’s gun violence numbers.