1111 S.W. 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204
February 23, 2009 00:00
Late last year, the Portland Metropolitan Area experienced an alarming increase in gang activity between the Bloods and Crips. On December 12, 2008, one shooting occurred in Portland at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, which resulted in the death of one young man. This began a series of violence in Portland and Gresham from December 13, 2008, to January 15, 2009. During this time, there were 13 more gang-related shootings, resulting in six people being injured and two homicides which occurred in Gresham on December 31, 2008.
In response to this increase in violence, Operation Cool Down commenced on January 16, 2009, as a collaborative multi-agency effort to target the most violent gang offenders, while also increasing police presence and outreach efforts. Most importantly, police worked with community leaders and political leaders and created a concept to work with no boundaries, adjusting to new behaviors in gang activity.
During Operation Cool Down, the East Metro Gang Enforcement Team (EMGET), Portland’s Gang Enforcement Team (GET) and the Hotspot Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) worked together to deter potential acts of violence by meeting weekly for roll calls to exchange information and patrol together. The teams worked numerous school events with School Police and Parole and Probation during this time. In addition to the gang teams, East Precinct paired up several district officers and when not taking calls for service, addressed gangs within their precinct.
During the time period of January 16, 2009 to February 13, 2009, there were three gang-related shootings, resulting in one injury. The attached statistics illustrate arrests, weapons seized, drug and cash seizures and Gang Violence Reduction Team (GVRT) activations that occurred during Operation Cool Down.
“Operation Cool Down was intended to be a temporary effort in response to escalated violence,” says Chief Rosanne Sizer. “However, we have no intention of reducing our efforts. This is not the time to stop, but to move forward with a structured plan that can be sustained and adaptable to new gang behavior.”
The teams will continue to work closely together to impact gang violence. Portland’s Gang Enforcement Team (GET) will add two detectives and one sergeant to the current staffing of GET. This increase in staffing will allow GET to assign one Sergeant and five officers to the afternoon shift while maintaining a strong focus on investigations and uniform presence. HEAT will also continue its enforcement actions, and will work closely with GET.
“Law enforcement is one component to impacting gang activity,” says Chief Sizer. “But ultimately, it is a community-wide issue, involving parole and probation, faith leaders, gang outreach workers and our community partners, such as the Police Activities League (PAL) who provide safe and structured activities. Together we need to talk candidly and address the deep roots of gangs and why they flourish.”
“Members of the Portland Police Bureau should be commended for the success of this operation to curb gang violence in our community,” says Commissioner Dan Saltzman,” this coordinated response will continue indefinitely while we ramp up efforts to provide youth with alternatives to gangs.” ###PPB###
Sgt. Pete Simpson