Courtesy of U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams of the District of Oregon
U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch took her Community Policing Tour to Portland, Oregon, on March 2nd and 3rd, to recognize the innovative efforts underway in the city on crime reduction and community policing partnerships. While in Portland, the Attorney General and I took time to recognize officers at the Portland Police Bureau, met with middle school students and facilitated a robust Community Roundtable discussion.
While at George Middle School, the Attorney General observed and participated in the G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) program, a gang and violence prevention program built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curriculum for elementary school students. Among the positive results from this program, it has been shown to increase positive attitudes towards police, identify risk factors, and lower the rates of gang membership among students who participate in the program compared to students who don’t. Research supports, these positive program effects were still present four years later. It is an important primary prevention effort in a larger community-wide effort to reduce gang membership and youth violence.
Attorney General Lynch and I led a Community Policing Roundtable discussion at the Blazers Boys and Girls Club where they heard presentations on the history of longstanding relationships and collaborations required in tackling the root causes of crime in the Portland community. Community youth spoke of their personal stories of positive relationships with police officers as mentors and supporters, and the influence those relationships have had on their lives and their desire to enter law enforcement. “These model collaborations rooted in trust and relationships demonstrate the power of community and police working together to reduce crime,” said Attorney General Lynch.
After launching a national Community Policing Tour in 2015 to draw attention to innovative policing programs and community work, Attorney General Lynch continued a second phase of the tour, where Portland was selected among cities that have excelled in addressing initiatives identified in the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing. The visit was an opportunity to shine the light on the positive changes in Portland since the 2012 Department of Justice investigation and resulting settlement agreement with the city. The enhanced level of community engagement with police in training, the formation of a Behavioral Health Unit, and implementation of the DOJ settlement agreement, is unprecedented.