© 2022 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Portland Police say they are seeing a big uptick in violent crime

police deering oaks.jpeg
Murray Carpenter
Maine Public
Police responded to a shooting incident in Deering Oaks Park in Portland on Wednesday Sept. 7, 2022.

Portland Police said a recent spike in violent crime in the city is creating a sense of lawlessness for officers on the job.

So far in 2022, they said there have been 42 shootings, 17 stabbings, 3 homicides, and 14 robberies, outpacing violent crime in 2021 by a wide margin. Interim Police Chief Heath Gorham said public safety and officer safety are at risk and he's asked the state for help.

"I've asked the state to step in, provide corrections officers and staff police department...officers on street are dealing with a sense of lawlessness...people willing to do and say things to them we've never seen before," Heath said.

Police said a recent shooting at the Riverton Housing Complex resulted in shots fired through a child's bedroom. Heath has asked the state to step in and help with staffing issues both at the police department and the jail. He said mental health issues and substance use disorder are playing a role in the spike and the lack of treatment programs and facilities to place offenders remains a big challenge.

Heath says his department is down 25 officers, and traffic safety and mass gathering patrols will be suspended to put a police presence in the most impacted neighborhoods.