6/2/2023 News Roundup


<<The U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday that a federal grand jury has indicted a former FBI agent who lived in Bend for his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building.

Jared Wise, 49, was charged with two felonies and four misdemeanors in the case after federal prosecutors received a tip from a source that he had entered the U.S. Capitol with a mob of people seeking to interrupt the transfer of power after the 2020 presidential election. Wise’s felony charges include civil disorder and assaulting, resisting or impeding law enforcement officers.

Wise worked as a special agent and a supervisory agent for the FBI from 2004 to 2017.>>

<<According to a federal court complaint, a person tipped off the FBI on Jan. 26 that Wise had admitted to being inside the Capitol during the riot. Investigators used cell phone data and video footage from that day to confirm his presence.

Investigators say the video they reviewed showed Wise enter the Capitol through a Senate wing door.>>

<<Once outside, Stone said body camera footage from the Metropolitan Police Department showed Wise calling officers Nazis and “the Gestapo.” Wise then watched as people in the crowd outside the Capitol attacked police officers.

“A few seconds later, as assaults continued, (Wise) shouted in the direction of the rioters attacking the police line, “Kill ‘em! Kill ‘em! Kill ‘em!” Stone wrote in her complaint.>>



[KW NOTE: Weird to see the PBA on the right side of an issue.]

<< The Portland Business Alliance is sending an immediate call to metro area leaders to increase pay for homeless service workers and streamline funding for homeless services.

The alliance sent a letter to Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson, Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington and Clackamas County Chair Tootie Smith on Wednesday with their concerns. The letter was also signed by local service providers, business associations and community leaders.

In the letter, the business alliance says the low wages are hampering efforts to hire and retain frontline workers, which is also stalling efforts to address the homelessness crisis.>>

<< “If we do not ensure that they are able to pay living wages, and the employers do not receive prompt reimbursement to cover their costs, we will never offer the breadth and quality of services we must have to truly reduce homelessness in our community.”>

<<“They are often people of color and/or individuals with lived experience of homelessness themselves who are making invaluable contributions in providing culturally sensitive and empathetic support to the most vulnerable members of our communities,” PBA stated.

“However, despite the demanding nature of their roles, these essential workers are currently underpaid, leading to difficult recruiting efforts and high turnover rates that hinder our ability to effectively address the crisis.”>>



<<The order, written by Chief Criminal Judge Cheryl Albrecht, allows a judge to order a defendant accused of a property crime to stay locked up until arraignment if it’s their third property-related crime.

The new order will give judges more latitude when they make decisions about whether suspects should get out of jail before their trial.>>

<<“What happens now is that instead of using a score, their recognizance officer looks at what their criminal history is, or what their pending charges are, and using that information, makes the decision and determines whether they can be held pending arraignment, or release pending arraignment,” Albrecht said.

This decision comes after a new state law was enacted to help reduce discrimination. The 2021 law, Senate Bill 48, ordered inmates to be released for certain crimes, instead of having to come up with bail.>>

<<The hope now from prosecutors is that it will keep repeat property crime offenders behind bars at least until they appear before a judge.>>



<<Eight months after giving the go-ahead for a gunshot detection pilot project, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced Thursday that the city won’t pursue installing the technology.

“It really came down to resources: time, money, bandwidth and personnel,” Wheeler said at a press conference announcing new violence intervention and outreach programs. “As we lined up all of the different strategies we could use to reduce crime this summer and make an impact on gun violence, we concluded that the strategies that we’ve outlined today were higher priorities for right now.”

In the months following the decision to contract with SoundThinking, formerly known as ShotSpotter, it was revealed the company had spent more than a year fostering close ties with several members of the police bureau and leveraging those relationships to try and sell their technology to the city. Several large cities have canceled contracts with SoundThinking, citing poor accuracy and minimal impact on gun violence.

Wheeler said community feedback was split about 60-40, with more people against the technology than in favor of it.

Instead, Wheeler unveiled Portland Ceasefire, an initiative meant to unify the city’s various programs and scale up the kind of street-level outreach efforts that have seen some success in other cities.

“Portland Ceasefire will work to unify the efforts of the community, law enforcement and other government partners to engage directly with those at the highest risk of perpetrating or being victimized by gun violence,” Wheeler said on Thursday.

Flanked by Police Chief Chuck Lovell, interim director of the Office of Violence Prevention Sierra Ellis, and several other city employees who work in violence prevention, Wheeler said the city has spent $4.5 million to hire violence interrupters and implement a street-level outreach program.

Violence interrupters are people in the community with lived experience in gangs or with gun violence. The theory is that they have credibility among those most at risk of being involved in gun violence and are best situated to intervene and direct vulnerable people toward services and assistance.

The city is also investing $14 million over the next two years to ramp up anti-violence programs in middle schools, to provide intensive case management for the highest-risk people, and a violence interruption program that sends outreach workers to hospitals to connect with the victims of gun violence.

Wheeler said the city was working closely with “Cure Violence,” a national organization founded by an epidemiologist which advocates treating gun violence like a disease. The approach relies heavily on violence interrupters to stop the spread of the disease by identifying potential hot spots and acting as mediators to stop violence before it starts.

Both Ceasefire and Cure Violence have come under scrutiny in recent years. Last year, a study in St. Louis suggested Cure Violence had a negligible impact on gun violence there. St. Louis invested $7 million in a Cure Violence program that launched in June 2020. At the time, like in most big U.S. cities, St Louis was experiencing a record-setting surge in gun violence. Two years later, as that surge has receded, data in St. Louis suggests neighborhoods where Cure Violence interrupters were active didn’t see a larger drop in gun violence than comparable neighborhoods where they weren’t active.

Similarly mixed results have come out of Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Chicago. In one Pittsburgh neighborhood using a Cure Violence-based model, gun assaults increased. Critics of the Pittsburgh program have noted it deviated in key ways from the Cure Violence model.

A 2020 report by John Jay College found Cure Violence and similar models had mixed but promising results. The report cited a number of challenges including forming relationships with a skeptical community, waning political support, finding and hiring outreach workers and the sheer magnitude of the task.

“Outreach programs may not be equipped to address the many obstacles facing their participants, including structural racism and systemic barriers to health care, employment, affordable and stable housing, and quality education,” the report said.

Ceasefire aggressively targets services to the small handful of people believed to be responsible for committing a disproportionate number of shootings in a city. Like Cure Violence, its record is mixed. In Oakland, where Ceasefire is credited with dramatically reducing gun violence, the program was put in place at the same time the city was being totally reshaped by gentrification. And in nearby Stockton, homicide rates declined after Ceasefire was implemented but rebounded after a few short years.

Wheeler pointed to a number of successes and indications the once breakneck pace of shootings in the city was abating.

After decisions last summer to modify the flow of traffic, increase foot patrols and improve lighting in the Entertainment District, the neighborhood has gone from seeing the highest number of shootings to zero, Wheeler said. Montavilla has also seen a dramatic decline, he said.

As gun violence surged in Portland and across the country in 2020, City officials began scrambling to figure out what to do. A string of new programs have been rolled out, starting in February 2021, when the police bureau launched a team dedicated to investigating shootings.

Since then, the number of shootings and other crimes in the city has declined. As of the end of April, shootings are down 28% since the same time last year. Vehicle thefts have dropped 6% and vehicle parts theft, primarily catalytic converters, has dropped 42%, according to Police Chief Chuck Lovell.

It’s not clear what role the many programs introduced in Portland over the past three years are playing in receding crime rates. Violent crime and petty theft skyrocketed in Portland but also in cities across the country and the reversals are not isolated to Portland either.

It’s tough to decipher what percentage of the decline is due to improvements in the economy, people emerging from quarantine returning to school and socializing again, Wheeler said.

“At the end of the day…I don’t care,” he said, as long as they are doing everything they can in line with best practices and the trend is moving in the right direction.>>


<<The City of Portland is working with the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform as part of a new “Portland Ceasefire” plan to reduce gun violence through expanded outreach programs and individual interventions.

At a press conference Thursday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler outlined a new organizational structure for Portland’s Office Violence Prevention, Community Safety Division, Police Bureau, city leaders and community groups.

The “Portland Ceasefire” model is designed to identify people who are at the highest risk of being victims or perpetrators of gun violence, connect with them, and offer services, intervention and support.

The initiative includes the “Cure Violence” model and funding for community organizations and street level outreach programs, as KGW outlined in a report on May 4.

Portland is paying the nonprofit NICJR $437,600 for a year of training, consulting and review.

“The strategies that I’ve just outlined are the best ones for right now that we believe can make the biggest impact in reducing gun violence in the near term,” said Wheeler.>>


<<Portland is giving up on the idea of gunshot detection technology, at least for the time being, Mayor Ted Wheeler announced at a news conference Thursday.

Wheeler said community feedback and talks with Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell factored into the decision, adding that the city would instead focus on various other existing and new gun violence prevention strategies.

It also partly comes down to a lack of staff capacity to run the system, he said, leaving the door open for the city to revisit the idea in the future if police staffing levels improve.

“Gunshot detection technology could be a very effective strategy for us down the road,” he said, “but the chief and I met and we agreed that while we’re seeing incredible improvement in our recruitment… we want to wait until we have those resources in place, and then we can reevaluate whether this model is one of our top priorities or not.”>>



<<The family of Aron Christensen, a hiker found shot to death in Washington state, are now suing the law enforcement agency tasked with investigating the killing.

Aron Christensen and his dog were shot to death on a hike near Walupt Lake, located in a national forest about five miles north of Mount Adams.

To date, the alleged shooter has not been charged and now Christensen’s surviving family is suing the county leading the investigation.>>

<<Christensen and his dog were shot to death while out for a hike in August of 2022 — the lifelong outdoorsman was 49 years old. Detectives identified a 20-year-old shooter who told investigators he feared Christensen and his dog were wild animals. In April of this year, prosecutors in Lewis County announced they would not pursue felony charges citing a lack of evidence. >>

<<Family representing Christensen’s estate are now taking the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department to court – alleging the results from a necropsy performed on Christensen’s dog don’t match the narrative released by investigators. >>

<<Family representing Christensen’s estate are now taking the Lewis County Sheriff’s Department to court – alleging the results from a necropsy performed on Christensen’s dog don’t match the narrative released by investigators. >>