New data shows the homicide rate in Portland, Oregon, has surged 207 percent from 2019 to 2021.
The spike is the highest among the city’s five peer comparison cities, according to a report from the Portland Police Bureau and the California Partnership for Safe Communities.
Data produced in the report demonstrates a revolving door of violent criminals victimizing other criminals, as roughly 70 percent of both victims and suspects had prior criminal justice system involvement. More than 61 percent of victims and suspects had prior probation or post-prison supervision. And about 58 percent of victims and suspects have a prior felony conviction.
On average, homicide suspects had been arrested more than five times for at least six separate criminal offenses, according to the report. Shooting suspects had been arrested at least eight times for more than nine different criminal offenses prior to the incident.
Homicide victims, on average, had been arrested more than eight times for over nine separate criminal offenses. Shooting victims had been arrested more than eight times for at least 10 separate criminal offenses prior to the incident.
Portland’s violent crime bonanza accelerated in 2020, shortly after nationwide protests erupted in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. That summer, law enforcement officials connected the uptick in homicides to the city’s decision to dissolve the unit that investigated gun violence.
The Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT) was disbanded in July 2020, after community members and left-wing activists alleged it disproportionally targeted racial minorities.
At the time the unit was demobilized, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced the city would redirect $12 million toward “communities of color” — $7 million of which would come from the budget of the Portland Police Bureau.
“I’d say they’re more emboldened, maybe, to be out with guns,” Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said at a press conference in summer 2020. “They know there’s not someone watching. There’s no real deterrent there. And I think that’s part of the issue that’s causing us to see the spike we have in July.”
The new report shows that the leading cause of homicide death in Portland is gunshot, followed by stabbing, blunt trauma, then strangulation. It also determined that the majority (52 percent) of the city’s gun homicides are attributable to gang violence.