PORTLAND, OR – This week, Portland reached a not-so-happy milestone when it met and than surpassed the highest homicide rate since 1994.

In 1994, Portland recorded a total of 55 homicides. With the double homicide plus the fatal hit and run that occurred on Tuesday, the total for the city is now 59 from January through August 10 in 2021.

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In 2020, Portland’s homicide total was 55.

Around 5:19 am Tuesday, a shooting occurred near a homeless encampment on Northeast Milton Street between Northeast 82nd Avenue and Northeast 84th Avenue. In that incident, two people were killed and three others were wounded. There have been no arrests connected to the murders.

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Portland Police Bureau Lt. Greg Pashley told reporters, “Detectives have a lot of work to do, on top of all the other cases they’re already working. It’s the same group of detectives that are responding to all of these. So there’s no rest for them and our heart always goes out to victims and their families.”

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Homicides shot up after the gun violence team was disbanded last summer, and then after the city council cut the police budget by $15 million. Mayor Ted Wheeler brought up a new unit in March in response to the crime rate that he named the “Focused Initiative Team.” Unfortunately, out of 20 positions available, the department has only been able to fill four spots due to lack of interest by officers.

Part of the job description of the new unit includes needing to demonstrate the “ability to identify and dismantle institutional and systemic racism in the bureau’s responses to gun violence.”

Earlier in the month, Daryl Turner, President of the Portland Police Association, told the Wall Street Journal, “They’re demonizing and vilifying you, and then they want to put you in a unit where you’re under an even bigger microscope.”

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This piece was written by Leah Anaya on August 11, 2021. It originally appeared in ThinBlueLineTV.com and is used by permission.

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