At least four people have been killed in separate shootings across Portland, Oregon, since Saturday as violent crime continues to plague the Pacific Northwest city, according to reports.
The homicides come as Portland police struggle to keep up with crime amid an acute staffing shortage and budget cuts.
In addition, some business owners say crime has them concerned about the safety of the downtown area.
The city set a new record for homicides last year, surpassing the 66 killings from 1987 by October 2021. Most of the deaths were by gunfire.
Amid the 2020 “Defund the Police” furor, the Portland Police Bureau’s Gun Violence Reduction Team was disbanded by the City Council but has since been reinstated in the face of rising shootings. Still, the newly rebranded Focused Initiative Team has struggled to get recruits.
Low police morale
A new independent study this week also shows declining morale within the ranks of Portland’s police. The 80-page report, conducted by an independent law enforcement investigatory agency called the OIR Group, was based on information collected from voluntary surveys of 277 employees – 27% of the entire bureau – and interviews with the police bureau’s management, city commissioners, other city staff, and retired officers, the Portland Mercury reported.
PORTLAND REACHES AGREEMENT WITH POLICE UNION AS NEW STUDY SHEDS LIGHT ON LOW OFFICER MORALE
“The repeated references to a ‘lack of support’ from City government seemed even more acute than frustrations with protesters — and have seemingly contributed to a self-perpetuating dynamic of distrust and resentment,” the report said. “Such feelings are particularly focused against those in City government who are perceived to be ‘anti-police’ and therefore undermining to Bureau operations.”
Fleeing to suburbs
Portland restaurateur Jaime Soltero Jr., who owns the local chain Tamale Boy, said he plans to move his headquarters from the city to the suburbs.
“I mean I get broken into there, two, three times a year,” Soltero told FOX 12. “We get dumped with like trash and stuff, that we end up paying for constantly.”
He said he’d “talked to a bunch of people and those of us that have moved a couple of our operations outside the city, we’ve been really well received.”
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In the recent violence, Portland police found one man shot in a leg at an apartment Saturday morning. He was taken to a hospital where he later died, according to FOX 12 in Portland.
In Sunday’s pre-dawn hours a man later identified as Rodriquez Dramane Griffin, 35, was found dead and later Sunday a man identified as Dustin Norton, 41, was found dead after officers responded to a “shots fired” call.
On Wednesday afternoon, police found the body of Jeff Ramirez, 35, along with another gunshot victim who was expected to survive, the station reported.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and Louis Casiano contributed to this report.