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Portland, Ore., Can’t Find Police for Unit to Fight Rising Murder Rate

Few volunteer for new gun-violence team that comes with more oversight and a mission to combat racism after a history of profiling

By Zusha Elinson | 2 August 2021

WALL STREET JOURNAL — Leaders in Portland, Ore., are looking to combat the city’s rising homicide rate by resurrecting a police unit focused on gun violence. But after a year of growing tension within the department, they can’t find enough officers to join.

Since 14 job openings were announced in May, only four police personnel have applied to work with the new version of Portland’s Gun Violence Reduction Team, which was shut down last year amid long-running protests seeking racial justice and an overhaul of police practices. None have yet been assigned.

Portland officers say such positions, once considered prestigious, are now less desirable, given the increased scrutiny that accompanies them. The new unit has its own citizen-advisory board, instituted after the old unit was criticized by city leaders for racial profiling. A job description says qualifications include the ability to fight systemic racism. […]

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