Mayor validates Commissioner Hardesty’s approach in new gun violence plan

Using tools available as commissioner of PBOT, Hardesty created a carfree plaza in a former slip lane at SE 72nd and Woodstock. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“We’re just trying to bring all hands on deck to use every tool we have to to address the drivers for this kind of gun violence.”

– Stephanie Howard, Mayor Wheeler’s director of community safety

When Portland Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty used traffic calming tools to address a spate of gun violence in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood last fall, many people scoffed at the notion. “People are shooting at each other, and she’s putting orange barrels in the road?!” is how many of the derisive comments sounded.

But not only did people who live in that neighborhood appreciate the approach (which included much more than traffic-related interventions and was a multi-bureau effort that included Portland Parks and the Police Bureau), it was also backed up by public health research.

Now Hardesty’s office must be feeling even more validated, because last week Mayor Ted Wheeler gave a serious nod to those tactics in his emergency declaration to combat gun violence:

“We will be expanding place-based interventions in neighborhoods that are caught in the crossfire of gun violence… these efforts will work with communities to identify environmental changes to interrupt gun violence. These interventions could include increased lighting, traffic diversion, or the use of non-law enforcement personnel to maintain positive environments in public spaces.”

In his Safer Summer PDX plan, Wheeler said his team will address gun violence with a three-pronged approach funded by $2.4 million that would include, “place-based investments… to address environmental factors conducive to gun violence.”

The best example in Portland of these “place-based interventions” is the new plaza that has bloomed in the place of a former slip lane on SE 72nd and Woodstock. In that project, Hardesty worked with the Portland Bureau of Transportation to reduce driving access in a location that had been the site of many speeders — who were all too often fleeing a violent act or in the midst of one.

This additional injection of political and financial capital from the Mayor’s office should raise urgency around the idea that the causes of — and solutions to — gun violence and traffic violence are often closely linked. Put another way, if we calm the streets, we calm the violence.

“In some areas it might be as simple as improving lighting at an intersection,” said Stephanie Howard, the director of community safety for Mayor Wheeler, in a phone conversation last week. Howard, a former trial attorney in the Denver, Colorado public defender’s office, said they’ll be looking to fund creative approaches to traffic-related interventions.

“This is a problem that requires all angles to find solutions to. There is no one approach that is the right approach,” Howard said. “It’s going to take every kind of intervention, and this really is about trying to find the most impactful interventions that we can.”

When asked specifically about Hardesty’s efforts in Mt. Scott-Arleta, Howard said,

“What we endorse wholeheartedly is collaboration to solve these problems. If bringing bureaus together that can play a role in this overarching problem is effective, which I think it is, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re just trying to bring all hands on deck to use every tool we have to to address the drivers for this kind of gun violence.”

We’ll watch this effort closely to see how/if street interventions materialize. For more on the gun violence plan and emergency declaration, see Mayor Wheeler’s website.

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dwk
dwk
17 days ago

Shouldn’t you disclose you are working on her campaign because if she is not paying you , she should.

steve scarich
steve scarich
17 days ago

This is, of course, silly. Gun violence has virtually nothing to do with transportation or streets or driving. We all know that. The Mayor knows that. Ms. Hardesty knows that. The reason the woke like this kind of ‘solution’ is that there is absolutely no way to know if it works or not. There is no criteria by which to judge the efficacy of spending these millions of dollars. They will surely come up with a few ‘studies’ that show that shootings are reduced in certain locales. That means nothing, without a City-wide reduction in shootings. Smooshing the problem around from one block to another is, I repeat, just silly on its face.

SECommuter
SECommuter
17 days ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Most people who commit crime weight 2 things: the consequence for committing said crime and the likelihood of being caught. If their ability to flee the scene is impeded by traffic calming the likelihood they would be caught increases. This in turn would cause the crime to occur less frequently.

It seems like traffic calming would be an efficient use of resources in preventing gun crime because it would have greater positive effects than reducing crime. Pedestrian safety being prime among them.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
17 days ago
Reply to  SECommuter

Most people who commit crime weight 2 things: the consequence for committing said crime and the likelihood of being caught.

You’re right, and yet Commissioner Hardesty also pushed to slash PPB’s budget by $50M.

joan
17 days ago
Reply to  Mark in NoPo

Right, and she also started a program called the Portland Street Response to have a trained group of medical workers and social workers to respond to problems where cops aren’t needed and have historically escalated the problem. And because more cops doesn’t lead to less crime. Quite the contrary.

dwk
dwk
17 days ago
Reply to  joan

The Mt Scott area was flooded with cops if you bother to actually read the facts about why crime dropped in the 6 block area.
You keep stating that more police does not lead to less crime when every single barometer points the other direction.
I am sorry that you just can’t read statistics…

Ramona resident
Ramona resident
16 days ago
Reply to  dwk

I live 1 block away from the slip lane and trust me, this area was never “flooded with cops”. We’re still experiencing shootings at this intersection at least weekly (usually every couple days). Most of us in this neighborhood aren’t seeing the reduction in shootings that we keep hearing about

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago

ok so Hardesty’s plan is not working. Who would have thought plastic barrels would reduce gun violence anyways lol.

Mike Quigley
Mike Quigley
17 days ago
Reply to  joan

Agreed with more cops doesn’t lead to less crime. Years ago, the only time crime dropped in NYC was when the police went on strike.

Chris I
Chris I
16 days ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

Joan/Mike,

Trying to correlate crime rate statistics and police employment numbers is extremely problematic. When you have fewer police, they respond to fewer calls. Crimes go unreported, and reported crimes don’t get responded to and documented. Anyone parroting the “cops don’t reduce crime” mantra isn’t using critical thinking, or they are actively trying to deceive.

Ask anyone who has tried calling 911 lately in Portland and they will explain the problem. You get stuck on hold for so long that a “crime in progress” becomes an unreported crime. Even worse, people are buying guns to protect themselves because they can’t count on quick response when faced with a violent offender. People are starting to take the law into their own hands. I don’t see how this is good for anyone.
https://www.oregonlive.com/data/2021/10/chaotic-scene-at-site-of-suspected-catalytic-converter-theft-led-to-death-of-christina-gomez-24-family-says.html
https://www.reddit.com/r/Portland/comments/pv1c01/vigilante_justice_lack_of_police/

joan
16 days ago
Reply to  Chris I

The problems are 911 are software-related.

It’s also documented that the police are conducting an intentional work slowdown. They want to make life harder for us.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
16 days ago
Reply to  joan

It’s also documented…

Where? You assert that data proves you right three times in this thread — but nowhere do you provide it.

You claimed last week that your views on policing are in such close alignment with black Portlanders that disputing your characterizations reveals ignorance or worse. I replied with data showing that you might be misrepresenting their views but didn’t hear back.

joan
16 days ago
Reply to  Mark in NoPo

I did not claim any such thing, nor would I. I am the parent of two male-presenting Black children, so the safety of Black boys and men is a real and everyday concern for me, but I am white and do not pretend otherwise. I also don’t engage with folks who don’t seem to be open to real conversation and who demand responses from me, so this is my last response to you as I don’t think are you arguing in good faith or with a sincere intent to do anything than badger or hassle me. Cheers!

dwk
dwk
16 days ago
Reply to  joan

I am the grandfather of 2 black children and I worry much more about them getting shot and killed by someone other than the police in this city right now.
You should be also.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
15 days ago
Reply to  joan

I did not claim any such thing, nor would I.

When dwk wrote that he wanted the police to protect his black grandchildren from gun violence, you asserted he was parroting a “white idea” that isn’t “the experience of many people of color” and misserves the interests of his grandchildren.

I also don’t engage with folks who don’t seem to be open to real conversation and who demand responses from me.

You don’t owe me anything. Nor, despite the sincerity of your perspective, is it incumbent on others to accept claims about what unspecified evidence shows on faith alone.

I don’t think are you arguing in good faith or with a sincere intent to do anything than badger or hassle me.

We haven’t met but I’m sorry you feel that way. I’ll spare you my claims to the contrary. Be well.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark in NoPo

Don’t you know – radical white bicyclists know more about what Black people want more than Black people. It si really shameful.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark in NoPo

Most all Black Portlanders I talked to are insanely unhappy with reduction of police, and Hardesty’s policies. Only white radicals in Portland who love to virtue signal support these blatantly idiotic policies.

Chris I
Chris I
16 days ago
Reply to  joan

From your article:

Since 2019, more than 35 dispatchers have left BOEC out of a staff of about 100 call takers in recent years. Some months, call volume has increased by as much as 30% since 2019. That can mean up to 14,000 additional calls, some of them from callers around the country ranting about politics in the city.

A 30% increase in calls during the police slowdown? Sounds like a correlation to me.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  Chris I

So you make up something, and then trying to prove it by posting something completely irrelevant. In fact, what you are citing points to the fact that we have much less police and 911, and much more calls. How does that equate to police slowing things down?

If your work force is at half, and your workload increased 30%, does that mean the work force is slowing things on purpose or just over worked.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  joan

Prove it. The only people I see trying to make life harder for us are cop hating people like yourself, people who hate cars so much that they are ok with causing traffic congestion on purpose thus hurting the air, and that radical DA who keep releasing criminals.

Hope progressives lose big this election so maybe they will care more about US and less about criminals and radical bicyclists.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  Chris I

Absolutely true. We had multiple issues in my neighborhood, and we didn’t call police because 911 takes 30 minutes and there is not enough police to respond. The crime in Portland is WAY WAY higher than it is being reported because most of us given up on reporting it.

Thanks a lot to Hardesty who is too busy gambling and sucking up to radicals instead of actually making this city better.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  Mike Quigley

Keep telling yourself that. I am sure criminals do not look at Portland and think: we can commit any crime here, and there is no police (nor a DA). you guys hate police and drivers so much that you are ok with more POC dying, more crime, losing elections, and cause more air pollution.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  joan

She DID NOT start the program. She is trying to take credit for it. Typical trump like politician.

steve scarich
steve scarich
16 days ago
Reply to  SECommuter

They weigh a third element: the payoff. In the case of shootings, it is usually a ‘crime of passion’ e.g. personal issues between parties or gang-related. In neither of those situations does the perp weigh the elements that you mentioned. In the case of say, an armed robbery they might, but these are not the types of shootings taking place in Portland, for the most part.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  SECommuter

Yep, keep telling yourself that story. “traffic calming would be an efficient use of resources in preventing gun crime” I do not believe for a second neither you, nor Hardesty believes this is a good approach – you like it because it sticks it to the drivers. Why do you like hurting the environment, poor people etc? These idiotic devices only create more traffic, more fatalities and makes the lives of people living in outer SE horrible (mostly poor and POC).

Car hating radical bicyclists are one of the main reasons we are not getting anwyhere. Bicycles are not a solution, and until you have a realistic alternative, people will keep driving.

All you are doing is making them wait longer in traffic and pollute air. And also these silly ideas just make things worse. We need more police, less Hardesty, less bicycle activists who think sticking it to the drivers is more important than finding ways to help people off their cars. Bicycles are NOT a solution for 99% of the people.

joan
17 days ago
Reply to  steve scarich

Hmm, the Mt Scott pilot has worked, and was based on successful initiatives elsewhere that showed that managing infrastructure did in fact reduce gun violence. So, those of us who have read the reasonings behind these programs know that they do, in fact, work, and quite well. There is evidence and data to back it all up. But, do go on about the woke crowds who are out here solving actual problems rather than just grumbling and griping.

dwk
dwk
17 days ago
Reply to  joan

There has been 51 murders in the last 6 months… where is this working?
What evidence at all? This is a record pace of crime and murder in the city.
This claim is nonsense.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
17 days ago
Reply to  joan

…the Mt Scott pilot has worked

That’s quite a conclusion to draw from a six-block study comparing Q3 to Q4, and that citywide injury shootings fell 21% during the same (and only) comparison period.

Further complicating such conclusions:

The Portland Police Bureau said in a statement that other measures the agency took independently of the pilot program — including “saturating the area with officers” and investigating occupied, stolen vehicles — led to a nearly 80% drop in area shootings between late September and mid-January. The agency said its efforts also resulted in 63 arrests and the seizure of three guns during that time.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark in NoPo

It is amazing how far right and far left are so similar in mentality and tactics. Joan should work for trump and fox news because they are using the exact same tactics. Making up things, using cherry picked data, not showing the full picture etc.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  joan

Umm, no it has not worked. Why do you keep lying? There is no such evidence. How are you better than QAnon and Trump people? you make up stuff, and keep telling us what we see with our own eyes is not true, nor you can back up anything.

Aaron H
Aaron H
17 days ago
Reply to  steve scarich

“Of course”? Sure, it’s common sense that transportation, streets, and driving have nothing to do with gun violence. But I sure would like to see the studies that corroborate this common sense. Meanwhile, there is a study (studies?) that demonstrates the exact opposite. If there is a specific methodological complaint you have about the study, that’s one thing. But if common sense is all you have, then you have to remember that at one point in time, it was common sense that the earth is flat.

Noah
Noah
17 days ago
Reply to  steve scarich

That photograph could be taken from my friends yard, and I live a few blocks east. I don’t need a study because I can tell you from lived experience that this worked. Two years ago my wife called me panicked as I was biking home from proper pint because I had missed a shooting with 50+ shots fired by barely five minutes. The barrels helped with both the shooting and and now the slip lane is closed and the random assholes cutting through that lane at 40 mph can’t do that anymore. Trust me when I saw EVERYONE in the neighborhood was afraid to cross that intersection to get to the park. You argue ‘oh it will just push crime elsewhere ‘ well then we’ll build more calming infrastructure. Certainly better money spent than the one cop who hung out at Mt Scott looking his phone in his car until he got egged one night and left forever.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  Noah

yes let’s build walls and concrete everywhere! Also your example makes no sense. So you missed the shooting, but you know that the barrels helped. Do you always make up stuff about things you were not around to observe. Give me a break. Also the idea of the concrete barriers is to stop traffic, not bullets. If your goal is to create places to hide behind, that is not stopping gun violence, that is just stopping stray bullets.

I am so tired of white people makign up stuff despite what Black people who are the main victims of gun violence say. Shameful.

cc_rider
cc_rider
17 days ago
Reply to  steve scarich

The reason the woke like this kind of ‘solution’ is that there is absolutely no way to know if it works or not

The GVRT existed for three-plus decades without having even basic performance metrics to show that the program worked to reduce gun violence. Not a single one. In fact, when basic data started to be collected and looked at, the cops just stopped writing down what they were doing. We spent hundreds of millions on that program without ever knowing if it worked, but I imagine you’re okay with that. Wonder why?

dwk
dwk
16 days ago
Reply to  cc_rider

I think the murder rate we have now is a pretty good metric….

cc_rider
cc_rider
16 days ago
Reply to  dwk

I think the murder rate we have now is a pretty good metric….

Which is cool, but it really isn’t a metric anymore than a drop in crime is a metric for PBOTs street calming.

You’d think after three decades they would be able to demonstrate what they’ve doing with our money.

Dwk
Dwk
16 days ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Murders are up 207% in last two years and double 10 years ago.
What factors are responsible for that?
Not just a rise in crime, it’s called sky rocketing…

cc_rider
cc_rider
16 days ago
Reply to  Dwk

Murders are up 207% in last two years and double 10 years ago.

What factors are responsible for that?

The global pandemic that caused murders to rise rapidly across the nation would be an excellent place to start. The city of Portland has been cultivating a massive drug addict community from around the country, as well which probably isn’t helping. Maybe it’s global warming, as temperatures have been hotter than ever. Lots of things correlate.

The gang team has been back up for a year now. If they were so effective, why haven’t they got murders down yet?

I’m saying, provide evidence. They had three decades.

There are never simple solutions to complex problems. The GVRT rarely seized illegal guns and had terrible intel on who was in actual gangs.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  cc_rider

Umm, Portland’s crime rate easily surpasses the average. Blaming the pandemic is just lazy. Why can’t you admit that cutting police, permissive attitudes towards criminals by Schmidt and unchecked spreading homeless camps that are full of stolen things, a horrible drug legalization bill, and people like Hardesty who hates cops and cars so much that she is perfectly fine letting gun violence escalate and hurt POC are the main reason?

Just like the GOP got hijacked by radicals like Trump, the progressive movement and bicycle community is hijacked by car hating cop hating people who do not care one bit that their ideas do not work as long as they can stick it to cops and those who drive?

Middle of the Road Guy
Middle of the Road Guy
17 days ago

Well at least they are addressing the root cause.

Mark in NoPo
Mark in NoPo
17 days ago

Commissioner Hardesty also brought an end to the Gun Violence Reduction Team and the enforcement of “minor” auto safety laws.

Our skyhigh and traffic deaths over the past two years belie the assertion that hindsight vindicates her overall vision.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  Mark in NoPo

It was also shown that the non-enforcement didn’t change anything at all. If anything, the percentage of those being stopped who are POC increased while thieves and murderers keep steaing cars, removing plates and committing crimes.

Frank Perillo
Frank Perillo
17 days ago

This is an unbelievable disconnect from reality. Let’s hope for change in November.

bjorn
bjorn
17 days ago

I applaud the city for trying to reduce violence of all kinds on our streets and think that hardened barriers are an important part of the plan, but I am not sure why they need to be bright yellow? The planters pictured are on the other side of a bike lane and they are also putting up wands, it seems like the planters could be made to be a lot more visually attractive without endangering anyone who is in control of their vehicle.

matchupancakes
matchupancakes
17 days ago
Reply to  bjorn

The planters will have an attractive design installed next month after another neighbors vote on designs.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
17 days ago

This follows the basic principle of bike locking: A bike lock doesn’t prevent all possibilities of my bike being stolen; rather, it may encourage a thief to take an easier-to-steal bike nearby rather than mine. Similarly, the traffic calmed street or intersection will likely encourage would-be drive-by-shooters and other high-speed drivers to go elsewhere, presumably some street that encourages high speeds.

It will probably work to some extent, but how much? To what geographic extent will its impact be? Will it be cost-effective? Will it simply shove the problem to some other poor blighted (or soon to be blighted) area?

J_R
J_R
17 days ago

Just because two elected officials think it works doesn’t prove that it does.

Fred
Fred
17 days ago

I wish you would focus more on how crimes – of all types – committed by drivers endanger cyclists, since this is – or was – a cycling blog.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  Fred

How about also focusing on how the anti-car policy of the city has caused more people to die, and more air pollution? Portland officials keep sucking up to bicyclists while ruining traffic, but they produce actually ZERO alternatives. How do you expect people to take their kids to school? Go to work? You think they can each bike for hours in the rain?

The moment bicyclists actually start caring more about reducing car dependence instead of just hating/spiting drivers who have no other alternatives, we might start getting somewhere.

The main reason a ton ofa ccidents are happening is because radical bicyclists are pushing for policies to inflict pain on drivers but do not care one bit about how to provide alternatives. So people will still stay in their cars. And will vote people like Hardesty out. I am personally done voting for any progressive people at this point.

Granpa
Granpa
16 days ago

The correlation between traffic and gun violence is equivalent to the correlation between oil imported from Norway and the number of drivers killed in collisions with railway trains. See spurious correlations

bbcc
bbcc
14 days ago
Reply to  Granpa

Converting blighted/vacant land to greenspace has been shown to reduce shooting incidence in both randomized prospective trials (gold standard for establishing causality) and observational studies (real-world efficacy). The team involved in those studies has functioned in an advisory capacity for us in Portland, helping to coach us improving the built environment to reduce gun violence.

It seems legit to me, and I look forward to reading studies that estimate its impact using a more refined study design than what the city has done so far.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago
Reply to  bbcc

so what? Has nothing to do with Portland. And frankly, the same people who hate cars are the people who love homeless which also means a ton of businesses go out of biz and the lots become vacant.

You are the cause of your own issues.

Jeremy Myers
Jeremy Myers
9 days ago

It is insane to think putting concrete block and plastic barrels will reduce gun violence. Only people who love Hardesty and hate cars think that. Also what’s up with concrete barriers in the middle of a road, or in narrow roads? It si FAR more dangerous. Hardesty hates cars, so I am not surprised you guys love her. Maybe instead of hating car drivers who have no other options, you should hate incompetent and most likely corrupt people like Hardesty under whose tenure we have record gun deaths mostly POC victims, more traffic fatalities and less bicycle ridership. Frankly some of the bicylists are not different than trump supporters – you prefer hurting the other side more than actually reducing greenhouse gases and making life easier on people.