Portland, OR

Wednesday in Portland: Mayor Wheeler announces Safer Summer PDX initiative to curb gun violence

Emily Scarvie

(Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Wednesday, June 29 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Mayor Ted Wheeler announces Safer Summer PDX initiative to address gun violence

On Tuesday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced the newly appointed team to lead Safer Summer PDX, an action plan aimed at preventing and addressing gun violence over the coming months. The team includes Shareef Khatib, Julian Massenburg and Kandel Ashley.

“The summer months historically see a tragic surge in gun violence in Portland and across the nation,” Wheeler said. “In order to effectively help address the problem at scale, we must take coordinated action with experts and the local community. I am proud to welcome this distinguished team of professionals with a wide range of experience in strategic violence prevention. Together, we will continue to work to save lives and make for a safer Portland.”

Khatib has over 13 years of experience leading and executing counter-violence, social and democratic transitions in a variety of environments and has managed counter-violence project teams abroad. Massenburg, a Portland native, has been working on the communications team in the city’s Office of Management and Finance since 2013 and helped form the Division of Community Safety. Ashley, also a Portland native, has worked in the Mayor’s Office since 2021 as the Constituent Service Director and before that spent five years working with young adults at the Native American Youth and Family Center.

According to the press release, the team will work with Portland’s Community Safety Division. The Mayor’s Office said it will also continue working with the Portland Police Bureau, Portland City Council, community groups and service providers to come at the issue with a unified approach.

2. PF&R audit shows lacks of diversity, accountability

A new audit released Wednesday by the city of Portland shows that Portland Fire & Rescue needs to do more to provide a professional and inclusive workplace for all of its employees. As of last year, 89% of the more than 700 people working for the fire bureau were men and 79% were white. The audit found that some employees described the tight-knit culture like a family, but others, including women and people of color, felt alienated.

The audit discovered that the tight-knit environment can foster unprofessional behavior, including offensive jokes and comments. The city’s audit offered six recommendations to PF&R:

  • Setting clear expectations for work requirements and employee conduct, and make sure employees are trained to meet those requirements.
  • Offering guidance and tools for filing complaints.
  • Letting managers know what to do it they get a complaint.
  • Documenting and analyzing complaints to identify patterns of risky behavior.
  • Conducting timely and impartial investigations.
  • Imposing fair and prompt discipline for misconduct.

3. Crews respond to early morning apartment fire in downtown Portland

On Wednesday morning, crews with Portland Fire & Rescue battled a two-alarm fire at a five-story apartment complex downtown. Crews responded to the fire in the 1200 block of Southwest Alder just before 6 a.m. When they arrived at the scene, they found smoke and fire coming from a fifth-floor apartment. A second alarm was declared at 6:06 a.m. to bring in additional resources.

According to PF&R, the fire was located in a single unit and quickly extinguished. It didn’t spread to any other apartments and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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