PORTLAND, Ore. — The sheriff in Oregon’s most populous county sounded the alarm on Friday over a spike in violent crime arrests and said the number of people in jail for murder and attempted murder was the highest for almost 30 years.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said in an open letter that the county that is home to Portland is seeing a dramatic increase in arrests and bookings for so-called Measure 11 crimes, or violent crimes such as murder, attempted murder, rape, buggery, and assault which carry state-imposed prison sentences if convicted.
There were 371 defendants charged with these offenses in prison on an average day in 2021 — already a huge spike — and currently half of the prison population is charged with a Measure 11 offense, Reese said.
The county is also grappling with record levels of traffic fatalities and overdose deaths, he said.
“We need to act with a sense of urgency. Summer is approaching, a time when we generally experience an increase in violence in our community,” Reese said. “Violent crime, traffic deaths and overdose deaths are already at historically high rates. Without action, we can expect the worst.
Additionally, homicides have been on the rise in Portland for the past few years. From 2019 to 2020, Portland saw a bigger increase in murders — an 83% increase — than almost any major city. Nationally, homicides have increased nearly 30% over the same time, according to FBI data.
Amid a spike in gun violence, Portland recorded 90 homicides last year, breaking the city’s previous record of 66 set in 1987.
Police and city officials say the surge — which has disproportionately affected Portland’s black community — has been fueled by gang-related arguments, drug deals gone awry and homeless disputes. shelter. The situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic, economic hardship and mental health crises.
Gun violence hasn’t slowed, with officials warning Portland is on course to surpass last year’s grim homicide record.
The Oregonian / Oregon Live reports that so far this year there have been 30 homicides, including a fatal shooting involving an officer.
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