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Multnomah County Sheriff pens a letter to the community sounding the alarm on violent crime

Sheriff Reese says action must be taken now, as the already-high number of violent crimes is expected to pick up over the summer.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese is deeply concerned about violent crime in the community, according to an "open letter to the community" his agency released Friday. He said that more than 100 people incarcerated in Multnomah County jails are currently there for murder or attempted murder.

"That equals back to 1994, and the pattern we're seeing is that it's escalating," the sheriff told KGW.

Sheriff Reese said the number of adults in custody for crimes like robbery and assault is just as troubling.

"They're over 50% of our jail population right now," he said. "Unprecedented."

So, too, are the record-high levels of traffic fatalities and overdose deaths, according to the sheriff. 

RELATED: Portland Community Safety Division releases first annual report amid spiking gun violence

In his open letter, Sheriff Reese said that his office and partner agencies must act now to stem the rising tide.

"We are doing good things," he said. "We need to do more of it."

Credit: Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

The sheriff says it starts with taking guns away from people prohibited from having them and targeting reckless and impaired drivers in high-crash corridors.

"So we reduce the reckless driving and impaired driving we see in our community and we overlay where that happens with data from gun violence events so we put deputies and police officers where there is gun violence and traffic accidents and fatalities," Reese said.

RELATED: Here's what we know about Portland's 2022 homicide victims

Credit: Multnomah County Sheriff's Office

Sheriff Reese said that increasing accessibility to funding for neighborhood groups that work with kids and communities of color is critical, too. Addressing livability concerns and increasing resources for specialty teams focused on going after criminal organizations likewise cannot be overlooked.

"We need to do more of that," he said. "That work saves lives."

It has perhaps never been more important than now, the sheriff underlined. Summer, a time we typically see an increase in violence, is right around the corner. Sheriff Reese said that sitting idly by is not an option. Taking action is the only path to a safer community.

"I am certain we can and it takes a commitment and resources and a data driven approach."

RELATED: Portland man charged in 3 homicides around the city

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