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Happy New Year, and Welcome to the Portland Police Bureau’s News Beat for January 2020. While we can’t highlight all the public safety issues and crime addressed by Portland Police Officers, here is a snapshot of what we’re talking about this month.
We have a new police chief! Chief Jami Resch was sworn in on December 31 as PPB’s 49th police chief since we formed in 1870. She was promoted by Mayor Ted Wheeler from the position of Deputy Chief. Chief Resch is an alumnus of the University of Portland and has been a Portland Police Officer since 1999. She has been an active member in the Police Bureau's Muslim Council, Slavic Advisory Council and Refugee Integration Program. She has also volunteered her time with Camp Rosenbaum, Shop with a Cop and acted as a mentor for the Zman Scholarship Foundation.
Chief Resch holds multiple certificates in advanced SWAT command and decision making; threat assessment training and diplomatic security law enforcement training. She was honored with a Bureau Achievement Medal and four Unit Commendations.
After just over two years in Portland, Chief Danielle Outlaw accepted a job as the new Police Commissioner in Philadelphia. We congratulate her on her new job and thank her for her service in Portland.
You can learn more about Chief Resch on our website, PORTLANDPOLICE.COM, and follow her on Twitter under handle @CHIEFRESCH.
The Gun Violence Reduction Team, or GVRT, continues its work to combat gun violence in Portland. Last year, there were more than 400 shooting incidents within Portland……about half of those were assigned to GVRT. The others were triaged to specific units, such as Homicide or Domestic Violence Reduction Team, depending on what occurred. Of those hundreds of shootings, more than 20 people died by gun violence and 71 community members were injured.
GVRT was formed in October 2018 and consists of officers, detectives, and sergeants who operate under the Tactical Operations Division. This unit was formed after the Portland Police Bureau took an assessment of gun violence in the city, and reevaluated its strategy in comparison to current trends and best practices. The best model is a dedicated unit investigating all gun violence, in effort to reduce that violence and prevent future shootings.
The team works with local, state and federal partners in the Portland Area Crime Gun Initiative, which is the Metro-wide approach to combatting gun violence in the tri-county area. Investigators from several area agencies share information about crimes and the guns used in an attempt to disrupt the cycle of violence.
It’s not just about making arrests. GVRT’s primary goal is to prevent violent crime. They focus on the most at-risk individuals of being involved in or falling victim to gun violence in our community. They do this through outreach, education and community engagement. They look for opportunities to have basic conversations, offer perspective, and guidance. This ranges from basic friendship and mentorship, but also referrals to our outreach partners who are a gateway to numerous resources and opportunities.
GVRT members understand culture, relationships, community fear, and the trauma that violent incidents cause. They’re mindful of the impact of not only the incident, but also of our subsequent investigation. That is why GVRT also is proactive in prevention and intervention of retaliatory shootings. Last year they recovered more than 175 firearms from shootings. They used technology to investigate ballistics of recovered cartridge casings. That helps them identify possible firearms and suspects related to shootings.
But even with these efforts, we can’t do it alone. We need help from the public. If you have information about any shooting in the Portland area you are urged to contact Crime Stoppers of Oregon. There are cash rewards of up to $2,500 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in any unsolved felony crime and tipsters can remain anonymous. Find out how to make tips by visiting Crimestoppersoforegon.com or call 503-823-HELP.
This month in the news beat we feature the latest from East Precinct.
Last spring, East Precinct created a Street Crimes Unit. It consists of a sergeant and 4 officers. The objective is to proactively work against violent crime with the help of the Neighborhood Response Team and patrol officers. Since its creation, this team has made 225 arrests, recovered 18 firearms, 15 stolen vehicles and arrested 3 of the most prolific car thieves and car prowlers in East Precinct. They also shut down 4 chronic nuisance houses, including one that had issues for 14 years.
Also, East Precinct’s Neighborhood Response Team recently worked with the Bureau’s Human Trafficking Unit. They conducted a directed patrol mission to address street level prostitution along 82nd Avenue. Several people believed to be involved in prostitution activity were contacted. The mission resulted in six arrests, some drugs, and a handgun.
Survivors of human trafficking often do not see themselves as victims and are hesitant to ask for help from law enforcement. This is often due to the fact they may have been forced to commit crimes and fear arrest. Cases of human trafficking often present as domestic violence, robbery, sex crimes or fraud. Victim Advocates were on hand and offered access to resources and services to those who were interested.
For resources related to human trafficking, visit: National Human Trafficking Hotline 888-373-7888. To report tips about human trafficking, contact CrimeStoppersofOregon.com
Portland Police is introducing a Wellness Program for employees. PPB and many other agencies are recognizing that law enforcement work has unique stressors not seen in most other professions. That’s why the community members on the PPB Training Advisory Council recommended that we establish the program.
Last year, with the support of the Chiefs Office, the Training Division assigned a full time officer to develop the program along with a sergeant and supervised by a Lieutenant.
That officer, Leo Harris, says officers respond to horrific incidents, violence, or incidents involving extreme anger or sadness. Our supervisors, detectives and professional staff also work stressful jobs and can be exposed to difficult cases. By keeping wellness a priority for our employees, we hope to make a positive impact on their physical and mental health. By assisting all Bureau members to create and maintain healthy habits throughout their career, we hope they thrive physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and financially.
It’s not just for them. In the long run, this has demonstrated that it can improve police response to the community.
The Bureau is starting pilot wellness programs in each division, with each one being specific to needs within that division. This may include exercise, mindfulness or other healthy habits. The wellness team in the Training Division, including Officer Harris and Sergeant Todd Tackett, with the support of the Chiefs, will continue to enhance this program as it rolls out.
You might notice something different about your neighborhood police officers.
Some Portland Police Officers are sporting special new badges, which are authorized for the year 2020. The 7-point star badges commemorate the 150-year anniversary of the Police Bureau. The Officers must purchase the new badge at their own expense from the Portland Police Museum.
On November 2 and 3, 1870, the newly formed board of Police Commissioners in Portland created the Metropolitan Police Force and abolished the office of City Marshal. The first force was a Chief, a Captain, six Policemen and three Special Policemen.
For more information about our history, visit the Portland Police Museum, located in the Justice Center’s first floor. It’s open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.