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Salem Mayor Chris Hoy, Police Chief Trevor Womack to hold community meeting on shootings

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February 24, 2024

Spurred by a rise in community violence and a 2023 report indicating shootings have doubled in the city since 2018, Salem leaders are launching a Community Violence Reduction Initiative.

A March 6 community meeting in east Salem will launch the initiative.

Salem Mayor Chris Hoy, a retired undersheriff with 30 years of experience in law enforcement, is partnering with Salem Police Chief Trevor Womack to address the rise in violent crime.

“We need to come together to address this growing problem,” Hoy said. “It will take a united community effort to develop meaningful prevention and response strategies.”

Key takeaways: Salem gun violence report paints grim trend for crime

Last year, the Salem Police Department commissioned a Gun Violence Problem Analysis for a detailed review of local gun violence to understand where shootings were happening and the demographics behind suspects and victims.

City leaders said the rise in shootings and the longer-term upward trend of violent crime are issues that have impacted the entire city.

“We have no choice as a police department, and myself as a chief, but to prioritize this violent crime issue above all else,” Womack said Thursday during the annual Breakfast with the Chief meeting. “It’s drawing more of our resources and more of our attention.”

He said the initiative will focus squarely on reducing fatal and nonfatal shootings.

What the Salem 2023 gun violence analysis showed

The report found a 100% increase in shootings in Salem since 2018. The city had two fatal shootings and eight nonfatal incidents in 2018. In 2022, 16 nonfatal and four fatal shootings were reported.

Shooting suspects during this period were mostly male with a plurality being between the ages of 18 to 24. Many had criminal histories and gang involvement.

“In Salem, most gun violence is tightly concentrated among a small number of very high-risk individuals who share a common set of risk factors like group/gang involvement and significant criminal justice history including prior felony arrests and prior/active supervision,” researchers said in the report.

The report noted a sharp uptick in juvenile violence. Salem police arrest data shows that compared to 2018-2022, 2021-2023 had a 320% increase in the proportion of juveniles arrested for aggravated assaults.

A heat map of homicides and shootings from 2018 to 2023 shows a concentration of incidents in northeast Salem. A city-commissioned report on gun violence shows these hot spots cover just over 5 square miles — about 11% of Salem's land area.

A heat map of homicides and shootings from 2018 to 2023 shows a concentration of incidents in northeast Salem. A city-commissioned report on gun violence shows these hot spots cover just over 5 square miles — about 11% of Salem’s land area.

Researchers also pointed to a heat map of homicides and shootings in the city between 2018 and 2023 showing a clustering of three hot spots in northeast Salem.

These areas cover about 5 square miles.

About 65% of homicides and shootings from the past six years occurred within these identified hot spots.

Community conversation to focus on Salem shootings

The community meeting on March 6 is intended to be the first of several conversations this year to build strong partnerships with community leaders, organizations and residents to understand why the city is experiencing community violence and what we can do to address it, city officials said.

The following goals were outlined for the first meeting:

  • Develop a broad base of understanding and knowledge about violence in the city.

  • Learn about what Salem Police and the city of Salem are doing to address this issue.

  • Gain support in creating and implementing an intervention strategy.

Community Violence Reduction Initiative Community Conversation is scheduled for March 6 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the East Salem Community Center at 1850 45th Ave. NE.

Reporter Capi Lynn contributed to this report.

For questions, comments and news tips, email reporter Whitney Woodworth at [email protected], call 503-910-6616 or follow on Twitter at @wmwoodworth

This article originally appeared on Salem Statesman Journal: Salem shootings spur mayor, police chief to hold public meeting

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