The Portland Police Bureau hopes officers for a new team to address gun violence will be appointed by the end of the week and operational by January. The Focused Intervention Team, a dedicated unit of one lieutenant, two sergeants and 12 officers will be tasked with interrupting cycles of retaliatory violence that can cause one shooting to lead to more.
Officers were initially slow to volunteer for a team similar to the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which the City Council disbanded during the protests and riots of 2020. But interest in the new unit grew once the team’s leadership was in place and they were able to proactively recruit officers. Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said last week the bureau was finishing up its review of 46 applicants and hoped to have the hiring process done by Tuesday.
“It’s going to be probably the first of the year before we have people actually out deployed,” Lovell told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “That’s because we have to transfer people from their current work assignment.”
The Focused Intervention Team joins an increasingly crowded field of initiatives aimed at curbing a surge in shootings and homicides. That includes the police bureau’s team dedicated to investigating gun crimes, a federal task force led by the FBI, federally deputized Portland police officers, and $6 million allocated to non-police interventions.
Homicides and shooting incidents have so far defied the all-hands effort and continued to mount with 113 shootings in September and 129 in October. As of Nov. 24, there have been 79 homicides this year, a record well past the previous high set in 1987.