Portland Chief Shifts Funds To Gang Outreach Workers


In a rare move, Portland’s new police commissioner is terminating grants for six youth outreach agencies four months early and redirecting the remaining $120,000 to support eight to 10 street-based gang outreach workers, reports The Oregonian. Commissioner Dan Saltzman decided the grant money needed to be refocused immediately to help stem gang-related shootings with spring and summer approaching. “Our focus with this money is reducing shootings, killings and retaliatory gang violence,” Saltzman said. “What I’m trying to do now is recollect the money and distribute it to those organizations that will really provide outreach on the streets during the summer.”

Some grantees called the commissioner’s actions a knee-jerk response to a gang crisis and say it won’t help youths in the long term. Others say the funding is so minimal, they doubt it will make much of a difference. “To me, this is a very shortsighted way to solve a problem,” said Rebecca Black, director of the nonprofit agency Oregon Outreach. Her agency received $60,000 in grant money in September and now must figure out how to maintain its summer academic/recreation program for at-risk North and Northeast Portland high school students. Said Rob Ingram, director of the city’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention: “Our No. 1 target is feet-on-the-street outreach workers, stopping people from going to jail or getting murdered.”

Comments are closed.