Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler recently announced a new emergency declaration to reduce gun violence in the city.
This comes after a series of emergency declarations to try to tackle homelessness.
These efforts are both being spearheaded by Portland’s year-old Community Safety Division, directed by Mike Myers.
Myers joined OPB’s “Think Out Loud” on Tuesday. He says the reason for the rise in gun violence is complex, and includes the number of guns on the street, a rise in drug addiction, a housing crisis, and the pandemic.
“If you read histories of pandemics, the breakdown of civility within communities and, and nations that have had pandemics is not unusual,” said Myers. “We should not have been surprised by some of the things that have occurred.”
The mayor has allocated an initial $2.4 million to combat gun violence. Myers says he will make targeted investments in a few neighborhoods East of 82nd Avenue.
“Until we invest in these neighborhoods that we have not invested in in the past,” said Myers, “they will continue to feel disrespected like there’s, there’s nothing left for them to obtain, and violence will be an answer unless you get in there and invest and invest deeply and continue it. It has to be sustained.”
Myers has asked his team to quantify the gun violence rate in the chosen neighborhoods.
“And then once we start making those investments,” said Myers, “I want to watch it every week or every month until I can see a reduction in gun violence in those neighborhoods by these focused investments.”