The Portland Police Bureau is announcing the formation of the Enhanced Community Safety Team (ECST). At the direction of Mayor Wheeler, PPB is implementing this plan to address gun violence in our city. The ECST is an investigative team which falls under the Investigations Branch of PPB. The team is composed of three sergeants, 12 officers and six detectives that will focus full-time on the investigation of shootings.
The assigned personnel will primarily be from the existing assault detail, so many of those on the team are experienced investigators and have been doing this work for months or even years. Before now, the Assault Detail has been investigating these shooting cases, making arrests and forwarding cases to the Multnomah County District Attorney (MCDA). The DA announced recently that his office is moving forward on 26 gun violence related cases, including two homicides.
This team also will work collaboratively with other partners including the MCDA, the U.S. Attorney's Office, Multnomah County Parole and Probation, the Portland Office of Violence Prevention, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and investigative units from neighboring law enforcement agencies.
The Portland Police Bureau hopes to narrow the investigative focus on repeat shooters who are responsible for many of these gunfire incidents. The goal is to take those responsible off the street and reduce the disturbing trend of gun violence in our neighborhoods.
One important component of the ECST will be an on-call team of investigators dedicated to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to the scene of shooting incidents city-wide. This team will work directly with patrol resources to immediately investigate incidents of gun violence. The on-call group will be made up of one sergeant, two detectives, and four officers. On-call means that these units will be available after hours to respond to calls as requested. The on-call sergeant of ECST will make the decision about which incidents will prompt a call-out.
The benefit will be that ECST personnel will be able to go to the scene of a shooting, see the crime scene and the physical evidence, interview victims, suspects, and witnesses. This will give them an advantage in immediately pursuing leads and gaining information that could help determine who's responsible. They will also have an awareness of other shootings and may be able to connect cases together. Another benefit is that patrol officers will be able to hand off some of the investigative work to the ECST, and that will allow them to take other calls.
The Mayor intends to seek funding to help cover some additional costs related to this team, including on-call and overtime pay. The source of that funding is to be determined and additional funds likely will require City Council approval. The Bureau expects it will cost about $150,000 to $160,000 for the rest of this fiscal year (through the end of June).
"Our communities can't wait," said Deputy Chief Chris Davis. "The mayor has made it clear that this is a top priority and that we need to start right away. So I think this is a step in the right direction toward addressing this unacceptable gun violence we're seeing in our city. A lot of work is being done with community partners to address the root causes of gun violence and to provide outreach and other services that we know reduce gun crime. We are grateful for their important work. This effort requires all of us, including community members citywide. A large portion of these cases get made when community members step forward and share information they know about who's committing these violent crimes. We ask that they continue to do so and take a stand against this kind of violence in our neighborhoods."
Deputy Chief Davis also said, "I want to extend thanks members of our community, elected leaders, and other partners who have been closely collaborating with us on developing this response plan. We look forward to continuing to engage with you as we look for other ways to effectively address this concerning public health crisis."
So far this year, there have been 144 shootings (excluding suicides/attempted suicides), and 40 people have been injured by gunfire. There have been 7 gun-related homicides.
Source: Portland Police Bureau