Community safety goes beyond law enforcement, it requires us to address the root causes of social conflict in order to prevent instances of violence and conflict. As a state legislator and county commissioner, I’ve fought for these upstream efforts, including by raising the minimum wage and developing Preschool for All. As Chair, I will continue to advocate for these critical actions we can take to build safer communities, while also focusing on addressing the significant public safety crisis our community currently faces.
We are facing an epidemic in gun violence, nowhere more so than my east Portland district.I’ve seen shootings take place directly outside my home, I understand acutely the crisis we’re experiencing on our streets. We need immediate interventions to break the cycle of violence.
As a County Commissioner, I fought to invest in community-based organizations that have deep relationships with those suffering the brunt of our gun violence epidemic. As Chair, I will continue expanding the capacity of our community-based organizations to do the work necessary to reduce gun violence, domestic violence, and the perpetuation of incarceration.
To that end I will further increase funding for the District Attorney’s office, on top of the increase I supported last fall, to ensure that we can investigate and prosecute gun crimes and other violent offenses. These resources reduce the time it takes to remove those convicted of crimes from our streets, lowering the likelihood of further offenses. This funding also enables law enforcement to focus on crime prevention.
We must also ensure that all of our communities have confidence in our law enforcement and public safety systems. I’m committed to working in partnership with the Multnomah County Sheriff and District Attorney, local communities of color, statewide advocacy organizations such as the Reimagine Oregon coalition, and other stakeholders to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions, identify and eliminate sources of systemic oppression within our public safety systems, and update training standards to ensure that our public safety officials are following best practices from the moment they start their jobs.
As County chair, I will:
- Increase funding in violence prevention and restorative justice efforts led by community-based organizations;
- Continue funding for a community organization “incubator” which I championed in the 2022 budget to expand community capacity to provide critical violence prevention services;
- Increase coordination between County departments, the City of Portland’s Office of Violence Prevention and Public Safety Division, the Multnomah County District Attorney, and law enforcement to address gun violence and other serious crimes;
- Explore the use of financial stipends to keep those most likely to fall into violent behavior engaged in critical, intensive programs that provide mentorship and mental health services;
- Provide funding for community building opportunities that can promote healing and stem violence;
- Reinvest in the county's Summer Works program to provide summer employment and work experience to youth involved in the criminal justice system;
- Partner with the city, court system, and District Attorney to better align services and budget priorities among the various parts of the criminal justice system;
- Expand investments in the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Gun Dispossession team, which works to get guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals by removing guns from homes in accordance with lawful court orders; and
- Ensure the District Attorney and law enforcement have the resources and training they need to address gun violence and other serious threats to public safety.
As a state representative, I successfully fought for a bill requiring background checks for firearm transfers. With our community now awash in illegal guns, I will work with the District Attorney and law enforcement to remove these weapons from our streets, employing investigative strategies like straw purchase stings.
I will also aggressively address the issue of homelessness (you can find my full plan here), where we are seeing more and more violence aimed at and among the homeless. This violence makes it even more imperative that we provide our most vulnerable community members - those living unsheltered - with safer living options, as well as better access to behavioral health services (you can find my full plan for behavioral health here).
Finally, we must recognize the role that poverty plays in driving cycles of violence, and invest in upstream services and programs that expand education and economic opportunities for those communities most directly impacted by gun violence. That’s why I was so passionate about crafting and championing Preschool for All, a groundbreaking program that will ensure every three and four year old in Multnomah County can access high-quality preschool, with a focus on reaching many of those same communities. You can read more about Preschool for All here.