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The Assistant Chief of the Portland Police Bureau appears in Inner Southeast for some Q-and-A

DAVID F. ASHTON - At the meeting, Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief Chris Davis listens to concerns about the sharp uptick in East Portland gun violence. Were doing the best we can with what we have, he says. Residents of the Woodstock, Brentwood-Darlington, Woodstock, and Creston-Kenilworth neighborhoods have regularly joined Outer Southeast residents in attending meetings of the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association (LNLA) – a regional group which THE BEE reported on last month, as they performed a volunteer yard cleanup for a Mt. Scott area resident who had been reported unable to do the work himself. The group usually meets inside the air conditioned building of the Community Connections Center, on the slope of Mount Scott. But, on Thursday, July 9, they held an out-of-doors, socially-distanced meeting – strictly limited to fewer than 25 people.

Their primary speaker was Portland Police Bureau (PPB) Deputy Chief Chris Davis, who said he he'd come to answer questions as well as to listen to the concerns of Southeast Portland neighbors.

"Right now, the big challenge for us is the Police Bureau's resources," Davis told THE BEE. "Between the COVID-19 crisis, and all the really serious civil unrest that we've had downtown and in other parts of the city, our resources are really, really stretched thin.

"And then, with budget cuts in the budget development process – and then things put forward by a couple of our Portland City Commissioners, in terms of budget modifications – we've lost $27 million out of our budget," Davis reflected. "So, now, we're one of the 'leanest' major city police agencies in the entire United States. All of these things have come together, putting a lot of stress on our ability to deliver police services."

A concern raised at the meeting was the 240% increase in shootings in July, compared to the same crimes one year ago, as reported by the Bureau – and, of course, the disbanding of the PPB's Gun Violence Reduction Team.

"We are seeing some alarming increases in gun-related violence; but we deal with the situation that we have," Davis responded. "We're doing the best we can with what we have.

"While I would anticipate call-response times going up a little bit, we do our best to respond promptly for highest priority emergency calls. We do ask for people's patience with longer call response times due to shrinking resources."

The LNLA is not a neighborhood association, and does not limit its efforts to Lents, as their recent cleanup demonstrates. You can learn more about this nonprofit group at their official website – www.lentsneighborhoodlivabilityassociation.org


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