Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt today announced that the DA’s office will be standing up two new local task forces – one that will focus on tackling organized retail theft and one that will address auto theft.
DA Schmidt was joined by Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson, Mayor Ted Wheeler, and Portland Business Alliance President & CEO Andrew Hoan in making today’s announcement.
“While data indicates that overall property crime is down in Portland, both retail theft and auto theft are persistent,” said DA Mike Schmidt. “These task forces will allow us to build on current efforts in a more focused, collaborative approach. I am grateful for the support of the County and the City in dedicating funding to these efforts, and to our law enforcement and business partners with whom we will be coordinating closely.”
Both Multnomah County and the City of Portland are contributing funds to create five dedicated positions (two deputy district attorneys, two investigators, and one legal assistant) within the DA’s office to lead the task forces:
- Organized Retail Theft Task Force – a collaboration with law enforcement and retailers to address barriers to tackling retail crime, including improved strategies to address the most prolific offenders, training on loss reduction and investigative work, and case preparation.
- Auto Theft Task Force – a collaboration with local law enforcement to reduce auto theft through improved investigations, case preparation, law enforcement training, prosecutions, and community outreach aimed at vehicle theft prevention.
“What we’re saying to our community today is: we hear your frustrations,” said Chair Jessica Vega Pederson. “We share your desire to see action. We want to see those responsible for these crimes held accountable. And we’re stepping up to make that happen.”
“I hear from Portlanders every day who have been victims of retail and car thefts and deeply empathize with the many people in our community who are affected by criminal behavior,” said Mayor Ted Wheeler. “These task forces are a way of bolstering the strong collaboration among our law enforcement partners in the region to support the good work they are already doing. Adding prosecutorial and investigative resources to this innovative police work will move Portland forward as we work to reclaim our city from those who think they are above the law.”
“It is not easy to be a business owner in Portland in 2023. Break-ins, senseless vandalism, robberies, and vehicle thefts are plaguing businesses of all sizes, especially store front businesses,” said Andrew Hoan, President & CEO of the Portland Business Alliance. “The Portland business community fully supports this multi-jurisdictional strategy and stands ready to partner with District Attorney Schmidt, Chair Vega Peterson, Mayor Wheeler, and PPB Chief Lovell in any way we can to ensure these task forces succeed.”
Also joining the press conference today were City Commissioner Rene Gonzalez, Oregon State Police Superintendent Casey Codding, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell, Gresham Police Department Chief Travis Gullberg, and Portland Police Association President Aaron Schmautz.
The Multnomah County DA’s Office will provide ongoing updates as the task forces kick off and work progresses.