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Ted Wheeler and his police chief talk about the ongoing gun violence during a Friday press conference.

COURTESY SCREENSHOT: CITY OF PORTLAND - Mayor Ted Wheeler during Friday's press conference.Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell addressed public safety on Friday after of a series of recent shootings.

"The city is on trend to have the deadliest year in decades," Wheeler said during a Sept. 17 press conference. It came after two lengthy City Council work on the city's new Community Safety Work Plan this week.

"I feel highly accountable for community safety," Wheeler said.

He listed three priorities to increase safety: refocus, reform and restaff. By that he means supporting existing programs to reduce gun violence; continuing reforming the Portland Police Bureau to meet community concerns; and hiring additional officers to address the bureau's current staff shortage.

Depending on resources available, Wheeler said he will ask the council to rehire 80 officers who are scheduled to retire during the upcoming fall budget adjustments process so that vacancies do not increase. He also said the bureau is making process staffing the newly created Focused Intervention Team that is intended to proactively prevent gun violence under the guidance of a public oversight team.

Lovell said the bureau has recovered 800 firearms so far this year: "We're out there working with the resources we have, and we're working to add more,"

According to Lovell, Focused Intervention Team commanders have been identified and sergeant candidates have applied, which will soon result in 12 to 14 officers being recruited.

Wheeler also said he supports expanding the Portland Street Response program citywide. It includes paramedics and mental health professionals who respond to 911 calls that do not require a police response. The pilot project is currently confined to the Lents neighborhood.

And Wheeler said he supports expanding the 311 non-emergency call number program so that police can focus on life-saving emergencies.

"Above all else, we have to remain flexible and responsive to community needs. I'll be providing regular updates as these initiatives progress," Wheeler said.

So far in 2021 46 people have been killed by gunfire in the city. In recent days there have been shootings that left more than 100 shell casings littering the street near Northeast 95th and Prescott. Another 26 bullets were found near Southeast 72nd and Woodstock. A woman narrowly escaped injury when one of the bullets went through {obj:56892: her windshield and two other bullets hit a Portland Park Ranger truck.}

KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Reporter Jim Redden contributed to this story.

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