PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty took a walk through the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood Tuesday morning where just a few months ago Hardesty pushed to install orange traffic barrels in response to increased gun violence.
"This alarming, drastic increase led to this neighborhood bringing some specific ideas to the city including a request to my office for a traffic calming intervention," Hardesty said.
Hardesty believes it has paid off.
In the three months after PBOT installed 18 traffic barrels in a six-by-six block radius, there were four shootings in the area. That is compared to 11 shootings in the same area in the three months before the barrels were installed. Hardesty touted the 64% decrease.
"I would not say the barrels by themselves stopped anything bad from happening, but it was the community coming together saying if we work together we can figure this out," Hardesty said.
Some in the community think the orange barrels have had little to no impact.
"Heck no," neighbor Krista Zakovics said. "Not at all, because people just move those around or go right through them."
Others think the traffic barrels have been instrumental in deterring gun violence by slowing down the vehicles with shooters in them.
"It's been immense, the difference between what we experienced last summer and what we experience today," said Matchu Williams, chair of the neighborhood association.
Could police have something to do with the reduction in shootings? The Portland Police Bureau thinks so. A bureau spokesperson told KGW officers saturated the area around Mt. Scott Park in late 2021 and it led to a 76% decrease in shootings.
"It's a combination of everything," Hardesty said. "Everybody has a role in reducing gun violence and police have a specific role as well."
Orange traffic barrels do, too, according to Hardesty.
"I want to continue this pilot in Mt. Scott and beyond," she said.
Hardesty said she hopes to replace the traffic barrels with concrete planters for a more permanent solution.