Portland’s homicide total in 2021 has already reached 58 people, making it the deadliest year in the city this century, The Oregonian reported.
Portland appears to be on track to shatter its previous all-time record of 70 homicides in 1987. Last year, the city had 55 homicides, a number it had not reached since 1994, when there were also 55 people killed.
The increase in homicides comes as the Portland Police Bureau is having difficulty finding officers who want to serve on a newly resurrected gun violence team, a year after its original unit was done away with at the apex of the Black Lives Matter riots, according to Fox News.
Portland’s Gun Violence Reduction Team was once considered a very prestigious unit, but the positions there are now thought of as much less desirable because of the additional scrutiny that comes with the role.
Daryl Turner, leader of the Portland Police Association, a union representing rank-and-file officers, explained to The Wall Street Journal earlier this month that "they’re demonizing and vilifying you, and then they want to put you in a unit where you’re under an even bigger microscope."
Since the disbanding of the original gun violence unit last summer, homicides have increased significantly, especially after the Portland City Council voted to cut the police bureau’s budget by $15 million, according to Fox News.
Despite the effort to resurrect the unit under a different name, uncertainty surrounding the new role is believed to have also reduced the number of applicants.
The homicide statistics passed the grin milestone as city leaders and community organizations gathered over the weekend for a March Against Murder rally addressing the rise in shootings, according to KATU.
Robert Pfeife, a board member with the organization Parents of Murdered Children who attended the rally, said his son was shot and killed 15 years ago, and that he is worried about the rise in violence.
"I don’t know exactly what’s causing it," he said. "What my concern is, is where are the kids getting the guns from? Why aren’t the feds out going after the people that are bringing the guns in?"
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