How we got here: Hundreds of Weeks of Shootings

Why, and when, did the East Portland News ‘Week Shooting Reports’ begin? Here’s a brief history:

GVRT unit disbanded, shootings spike

It started back on June 9, 2020, the fateful date that Portland’s Police Commissioner – Mayor Ted Wheeler – announced the disbanding of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT). The number of shooting incidents in outer East Portland spiked the next day and nearly tripled in a month – and continued to steadily increase, racking up an astounding 892 incidents that year, with more than half of them in outer East Portland.

Instead of reporting and publishing the occasional article about an individual shooting incident when they took place, East Portland News was forced to start combining shooting stories in a “Weekly Shooting Report”.

August 6, 2020 – Mayor Wheeler hinted that the GVRT might be reinstated “in some form” – and that month ended with 122 shootings logged.

December 22, 2020 – PPB Chief of Police Chuck Lovell told neighbors that his office had been tasked by Mayor Wheeler’s office make a plan to reduce shootings by Christmas – a plan which was written and presented to the Mayor by that date.

Shootings continue, unabated.

February 19, 2021 – PPB Deputy Chief Chris Davis reveals the Bureau’s new “Enhanced Community Safety Team” (ECST) was tasked to investigate, and not prevent, shootings.

Criminals, with guns, continue to shoot up our neighborhoods.

June 4, 2021 – A year after Mayor Wheeler disbanded the GVRT, he announced the formation of the “Focused Intervention Team” (FIT) – and, along with it, the “Community Oversight Group” (COG) to supervise and critique the unit’s staff and activities.

And still, shooting incidents don’t decrease.

January 19, 2022 – After training, the new Focused Intervention Team officers and command staff roll out for their first night shift based from North Precinct facilities – although most shootings take place in outer East Portland.

Fortunately, since the PPB’s ECST and FIT units have gone into action, their officers have slowed the increase in shooting incidents.

2022: ‘Safer Summer PDX’ Initiative
A good investment of $2.7 million?

In June, 2022, Police Commissioner Wheeler and and the Community Safety Division rolled out the “Safer Summer PDX” Initiative in April 2022, securing $2.7 million from City Council for the effort that began in June 2022.

At the time, Wheeler said the program partners with Bureaus to collaborate on ‘place-based strategies’ to combat ‘gun violence’.

Sometime last summer, the program’s name was changed to “Safer Summer PDX – Focused Investment” (SSPPDX-FI)

The 2022 Safer Summer PDX – Focused Investment
Final Report states:

Results indicate approximately 2,400 direct beneficiaries from programming, 400 high risk individuals supported into behavioral patterns away from violence, a reduction in gun violence incidents of 19% from the same period in 2021, and a 43% reduction from the predicted gun violence incidents for the period.

The Final Report is elegantly written in lofty language. However, it is difficult to understand what it is really reporting, in our opinion. For example, quoting from the document, [with our thoughts annotated]:

Objective 1:
To persuade those most likely to shoot this summer not to engage in gun violence

Objective 1 Outcomes:  

  • SSPDX-FI awarded 5 partners a total value of $929,973 with an estimated reach of 1,677  individuals. [Or, $554 spent to reach each “individual”?]
  • All partners were new to the City and are now registered as qualified vendors willing to support gun violence reduction initiatives with passion, credibility, and access to target communities.  The “Credible Messenger” model proved effective. [How? In what ways?]
  • Engaged clients and family members consistently reported the benefit of engagement and almost immediate improvement in life factors by Credible Messengers’ presence and efforts. [What are “life factors”?]
  • Given the relatively small size of Portland’s communities, economies of scale and opportunities for co-collaboration readily manifested, e.g. one provider’s block party provided short term employment events for other partners’ mentees. [Only “one provider’s block party provided short term employment”?]
  • Individual and community trauma is powerful but can be harnessed in a manner to be a foundation for resilience and progress. [A statement of opinion, not an outcome.]
  • More time and space must be given to partner capacity building to implement this work in an accountable and compliant manner. And more strategic thought given to how to connect multiple partners’ efforts into a coordinated plan to address gun violence. [Emphasis added above. Was this program not done in a way that was accountable or compliant ways?]

Perhaps others will be able to decipher Safer Summer PDX – Focused Investment Final Report better than us. CLICK HERE to be directly linked to the city’s report, and judge for yourself how effective it was.

2023: City makes $4.5 million investment
in ‘Street Level Outreach’

On June 1, 2023 the City of Portland announced a partnership with the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) in launching and implementing a “focused deterrence strategy” to reduce gun violence here, called “Portland Ceasefire.”

The program centers on collaboration among Portland’s Community Safety Division and Office of Violence Prevention, City leaders, the Portland Police Bureau, and community groups.

A media release announced that Sierra Ellis, former interim manager of Portland’s Office of Violence Prevention, will serve as Portland Ceasefire’s program manager.

Collaboration, coordination, and trust
“Ceasefire’s success hinges on collaboration, coordination, and trust from all of our partners. We acknowledge Portland’s gun violence problem did not arise overnight and its resolution will take time,” Ellis was quoted as saying.

“Portland Ceasefire works to unify the efforts of the community, law enforcement, and other government partners to engage directly with those at highest risk of carrying out or being victimized by gun violence,” stated Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Once implemented, the Portland Ceasefire model will follow these steps:

  • Work with partners to identify people who are at the highest risk of committing or being a victim of gun violence.
  • Establish direct and respectful communication with these individuals.
  • Offer these individuals services, opportunities, and support through multiple programs, including the Office of Violence Prevention’s Intensive Case Management Program. These services help individuals move to a safer location, to complete a diploma or GED program, to find a job, to receive training, to enroll in mental health treatment, and more. Recent investments doubled the Office of Violence Prevention’s case manager pool from 12 to 24 managers.
  • Unite the entire law enforcement community with the singular objective of reducing gun violence by prioritizing individuals who inflict the most harm upon the community and refuse to engage with services.


Portland’s contract with the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform lasts through April 2024.

Along with the Portland Ceasefire partnership, Portland is making a historic $4.5 million “investment” over the next two years to fund “Street Level Outreach Workers” and “violence interrupters” through the Cure Violence model, a “public health approach” to reducing “gun violence” the release said.

How successful will the Portland Ceasefire initiative be, using the Cure Violence model?

See how the Cure Violence model is working in the city where it started by reading the TIME Magazine Article, “A New Study Casts Doubt on One of the Country’s Most Popular Violence Prevention Approaches”, CLICK HERE.

Working with our PPB East Precinct Neighborhood Response Teams on vehicle theft and gun interdiction missions, the ECST and FIT officers appear to be making headway, in spite of a costly layers of social programs.

So, each week shootings continue, we keep providing the Weekly Shooting Reports to our readers.

Still waiting to see report
What was the result of the 2023 multi-million dollar ‘Portland Ceasefire’ initiative? So far, there’s been no report available. We’ll update this page when that information becomes available.

Welcoming 2024

It started with Shooting Report Week 186: Two shootings ring in the New Year, both in Montavilla: CLICK HERE to read that story.

We’re hopeful our dedicated police officers will be able to reduce these potentially deadly crimes further, as time goes on.

© 2024 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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