Oregon Cities

Portland crime rates dropped in 2023, data shows

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After years of record gun violence, Portland saw a drop in homicides and shootings in general in 2023.

Portland Police Chief Bob Day addresses media at a press conference in Portland City Hall on January 24, 2024. Day explained how police data shows a significant drop in crime in Portland in 2023.

Portland Police Chief Bob Day addresses media at a press conference in Portland City Hall on January 24, 2024. Day explained how police data shows a significant drop in crime in Portland in 2023.

Alex Zielinski / OPB

“Overall crime in Portland continues to go down, and significantly so in some key categories,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler at a Wednesday press conference. “We’re trending in the right direction.”

According to Portland Police Bureau data, Portland recorded 73 homicides in 2023 — 22 fewer than the record 95 homicides in 2022. It also saw a 16% decrease in non-fatal shootings, where a victim was only injured. And there was a 22% drop in overall shootings, recording 289 fewer shootings in 2023 compared to 2022. Other crimes, like assault, car theft, and burglary, also declined last year.

The vast majority of homicides were caused by firearms. Only 12 of the 73 total homicides did not include a firearm.

Wheeler said this trend is the result of new partnerships between police and community groups. He pointed to a new city program called Project Ceasefire, which uses street outreach and counseling with people who may be connected to gun violence to deter shootings.

“These teams are dedicated to improving the lives of Portlanders and working with the community to prevent harm from happening in the first place,” Wheeler said.

Mike Myers, the director of Portland’s Community Safety Division, said the drop in crime has a direct correlation to Portland City Council’s past investments in the police bureau. He said he believes the funding approved by the council in recent years to address gun violence — like Wheeler’s declaration of a gun violence emergency in 2022, which put $2.4 million toward violence prevention work — delivered what it promised. That’s because the city saw a 37% decrease in gun violence among young Black men, a population Myers said is disproportionately represented in gun crimes in Portland.

“That’s huge. We’ve saved people’s lives,” Myers said. “These are individuals that likely would’ve been killed.”

PPB Chief Bob Day said he was heartened by the data, but that it’s “not something to celebrate.”

“What you just heard today is a message of hopefulness,” said Day, who entered the chief’s office in October. “The reality is the challenges are still significant and so we are going to have to just keep our foot on the gas in terms of this effort.”

While a decrease from the prior year, the 2023 homicide rate remains much higher than the average deaths Portland reported before 2019. Before that year, Portland had a 20-year average of 28 homicides each year. Portland saw the homicide rate begin to tick upward in 2019 as gun violence rates surged both locally and nationally.

Not all crime trends brought optimism. Day noted that Portland saw record traffic deaths in 2023, with 75 people dying in traffic crashes, including single-vehicle crashes, multi-vehicle crashes, bicycles, pedestrians, and motorcycles. Day called these record deaths a “tragedy.” He also said that shoplifting rates increased by 88% percent over the year, an increase that Day attributes to PPB’s dedicated focus on deterring retail theft in 2023.

PPB’s homicide data doesn’t include people killed by police officers. In 2022, officers fatally shot four people. That number is the same in 2023.

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