City Council Takes Unified Step Towards Addressing Surge in Gun Violence – Blogtown – Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon 2021-04-07 19:36:51 –

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The Portland City Council responded to the astonishing rise in local gun violence by unanimously passing a $ 6 million emergency budget package on Wednesday.

The proposal is a grant to a community-based organization that works directly with Portlander, affected by gun violence, to significantly expand Portland’s Park Ranger program and fund the collection and analysis of crime data. To provide. This does not include additional funding for the Portland Police Department (PPB), the first solution proposed by Mayor Ted Wheeler in March.

“This proposal goes beyond the mere enforcement of investing in upstream solutions, addressing the inequality faced by many of the affected communities, and replacing and rebuilding with systems that support them,” he said. Carmen Rubio said at a council meeting on Wednesday.

However, the proposal directs the PPB to relocate current police officers and work directly to prevent gun violence. The reorganization informally revives a 12-member patrol team, formerly known as the Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT), which was disbanded by a city council budget vote in June 2020. GVRT was later disbanded City audit found The officers were disproportionately watching black men.

Unlike GVRT, the new “Intensive Intervention Team” of the National Police Agency has a new civil surveillance department and is authorized to collect more thorough demographic data.

“The era of arbitrary and time-consuming anti-violence tactics. Stop and frisk“We will build a new community-centric police partnership to make Portland safer from gun violence,” Wheeler said Wednesday.

Voting follows a series of hasty, private negotiations between city commissioners. This debate was accelerated by pressure from community groups, Portland police officers, and the pace of deadly shootings in recent months.

According to the PPB, guns have been used in 18 of the 25 murders in the city since January 1. In Portland, only a total of three murders were seen during the same period in 2020.

To Early MarchWheeler has emerged in support of a gun violence reduction program introduced by the Joint Pagan Peace and Action (IPAC), a group of PPBs and religious leaders. The plan proposed investing $ 1.7 million in the Police Department to restart GVRT under another name and establish a new community committee to oversee its work.

The plan and the mayor’s support were a surprise to others in the city council who were hoping to work with Wheeler to develop a unified response to the surge in gun violence.

Instead of immediately supporting the new proposal, Rubio and commissioners Dan Ryan and Mingus Maps came together. Sell ​​counter offers— Avoiding new investment in PPB. It gained immediate support from Commissioner Jo Anne Hardesti, who led the council’s decision to sell to GVRT last summer.

Wednesday’s decision reflects the interests of both Wheeler and his fellow commissioners.

The plan will invest $ 4.1 million in new and expanded grants to support organizations and nonprofits working with communities affected by gun violence. This is a decision that reflects the feedback that the Commission has collected directly and through protests of racial justice over the past year. .. The proposal reserves $ 122,160 for a California-based criminal justice organization to pay to independently collect and analyze gun violence data in Portland. The city’s Community Safety Director, a new position served by former Portland Fire Chief Mike Myers, will also be responsible for creating a longer-term, community-informed response to gun violence across Portland. Myers will receive $ 200,000 through a new budget package and will hire two new criminal data analysts to inform them of their work.

This package reserves an additional $ 120,000 to hire analysts to support the community group overseeing PPB’s new Focused Intervention Team (FIT).

It is not yet clear when that group, the FIT, will actually be created.

At a press conference after the council meeting on Wednesday, PPB Prime Minister Maurice Ravel said it would be difficult to find twelve police officers to take up this new position. The bureau currently has 563 officers with 98 officers vacant.

“I’m still not 100% sure where these officers are coming from,” Ravel said. “We are already very thin.”

Lovell said some executives hesitated to join a team that received such public attention and opposition.

“We have made various efforts to fight. [gun violence] “Before it is scrutinized,” he said, referring to GVRT. “Many people did a lot of good work … got guns from the streets and had good relationships with people … and their work was criticized and essentially left. People will remember it and wonder, “What would happen to me and my career if it happened again?”

The proposal is also investing $ 1.4 million to double the number of park rangers employed by Portland Parks and Recreation (PPR) to 48. These rangers are not expected to replace police officers, but their spread throughout Portland Park aims to strengthen public surveillance where there have been fierce conflicts in the past.

Vicente Harrison, PPR security and emergency manager, said Wednesday that park rangers have been trained to deescalate and can resolve problems that occur on park grounds before police intervention is required. .. However, Harrison emphasized that rangers regularly work with PPB officers if the situation requires a more serious response. The new investment will allow Park Rangers to “expand and strengthen” their current partnership with police, he said.

The total budget package is $ 5.9 million and comes from the general funding dollars remaining in the city’s budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year ending June 30. The city council is expected to allocate dollars from next year’s budget cycle. We support this urgent solution, but those conversations are still in progress. Wheeler presents a budget proposal for fiscal year 2021-22 the next day. April 29..

Everyone who testified today, including the city commissioner, said the plan should serve as the beginning of an intensive process to restructure the city’s response to gun violence.

“I consider it a breakthrough in a true community safety system today,” Ryan said. “By this ordinance, we build the foundation and from here we build from scratch. It is a well-known fact that this organization respects different perspectives on this issue. Finding a unified path. Wasn’t easy, but it’s always the best result for the city. “

In a call with Mercury After the vote, Maps echoed to his colleagues.

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“The fact that the same police accountability plan can carry the mayor and Jo Anne Hardesti,” Maps said. “It tells us something about what we have achieved as a council.”

Mapps said he was looking forward to delving into the work presented in the vote on Wednesday. This is especially true when “rethinking” the role of police in community security, which Congress promised when the GVRT broke up last year. He hopes that clear communication and transparency with the general public will drive the work.

“I’ve always said that the best medicine is sunlight,” Maps said. “We need to deal with years of distrust between the public and the police. At the same time, we need to be aware that the police play a role here. This proposal does a good job and We will deal with both. “

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