Whether you’re visiting Portland or planning on living in Portland, OR, safety is likely a top concern. On the surface, the high crime rate in Portland can seem intimidating, but the truth is most places in Portland are very safe with violent crime largely confined to just a few areas. Here’s what you should know about crime in the City of Roses and how to stay safe.
Understanding the Portland Crime Rate
City crime rates are always reported as a per-capita amount of crime, or the number of crimes per 100,000 residents. This allows you to compare your risk of crime between cities of different sizes.
Portland crime rates are based on the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics (2019). These crime rates are based on eight index crimes broken down into two categories: violent crimes and property crimes. Only index crimes are used to calculate city crime rates as they are well tracked and serious. Most criminal offenses like disorderly conduct and drug offenses aren’t included in FBI crime rates, but you can see these types of offenses on a Portland crime map.
The Portland crime rate is:
- 5,748 total crimes per 100,000 people
- 545 violent crimes per 100,000 people
- 5,203 property crimes per 100,000 people
How does that compare to the national average? The national average crime rate is:
- 2,580 total crimes per 100,000 people
- 382 violent crimes per 100,000 people
- 2,362 property crimes per 100,000 people
Here’s how the crime rate in Portland compares to other major cities:
- 10% less crime than Salt Lake City, UT
- 14% less crime than Spokane, WA
- 30% more crime than Miami, FL
- 6% more crime than Houston, TX
- 12% more crime than Seattle, WA
The Portland Police Bureau tracks crime in Portland, OR under three categories:
- Person crimes include sex offenses, assault, homicide, and human trafficking. There were 9,994 reported person offenses between April 2020 and 2021.
- Property crimes include burglary, embezzlement, fraud, robbery, vandalism, and theft. There were 51,916 property crimes between April 2020 and 2021.
- Society crimes include drug offenses, animal cruelty, prostitution, weapon offenses, and gambling offenses. There were 1,764 society offenses between April 2020 and 2021.
You can use this Portland crime map from the Portland Police Bureau to explore crime by neighborhood. SpotCrime also has a Portland, OR crime map showing recent offenses, trends, crime by neighborhood, and more.
Violent Crime in Portland
In 2019, there were 3,606 violent crimes in Portland, Oregon. That included:
- 2,230 aggravated assaults
- 979 robberies
- 368 rapes
- 29 murders and nonnegligent manslaughter
The Portland violent crime rate is 545 violent crimes per 100k people. You have a 1 in 184 chance of being the victim of violent crime. The Portland homicide rate is 4 murders per 100,000 people. That’s lower than the national murder rate of 5 homicides per 100k people.
Neighborhoods with the most violent crime in Portland are:
- Hazelwood (732 person crimes within 1 year)
- Downtown (719 person crimes)
- Powellhurst-Gilbert (573 person crimes)
- Centennial (498 person crimes)
- Lents (383 person crimes)
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In 2020, Portland police dissolved their Gun Violence Reduction Team, a specialized unit focused on gun violence, which long faced criticism for targeting minorities in the city. Portland, like most cities in the U.S., experienced a surge in violent crime in 2020 attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. 40 people were killed by gunfire in Portland in 2020 with 900 total shootings. That’s almost 2.5 times higher than 2019 which saw 393 shootings. There were 55 homicides in Portland in 2020, the highest number in nearly 25 years.
By March 2021, Portland was averaging two homicides per week.
The Department of Justice recently backed a new task force to address violent crime in Portland. About 20 officers from the Portland Police Bureau will be federally deputized and work alongside ATF and FBI agents.
Property Crime in Portland
In 2019, there were 34,452 property crimes in Portland. That included:
- 28,820 larceny and theft
- 6,432 car thefts
- 4,200 burglaries
- 252 arsons
You have a 1 in 19 chance of being the victim of property crime in Portland.
Dangerous Areas of Portland
The following are the high-crime areas of Portland with 30-50% more crime than the city average.
- Centennial (pop. 20,000) has 810 violent crimes per 100,000 people.
- Powellhurst (pop. 26,000)
- Lents (pop. 20,000)
- Mill Park (pop. 10,000)
- Park Rose (pop. 12,000)
- Hazelwood (pop. 25,000) had 3,470 reported criminal offenses between April 2020 and 2021
- Brentwood-Darlington (pop. 13,000)
- Portsmouth (pop. 11,000)
- Downtown Portland (pop. 6,500) had 4,410 reported crimes within one year
Most of the dangerous Portland neighborhoods are in east Portland, including the top 3 on this list and Hazelwood. In north Portland, Portmouth, St. John’s, and Kenton top the list for crime.
Some of these neighborhoods received more than 2,000 calls for police within 5 years compared to the safest neighborhood with under 15 calls.
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Safest Neighborhoods of Portland
Looking for safe places to live in Portland, OR? While there are some areas of Portland with high crime, most neighborhoods are very safe. Here are some of the safest Portland neighborhoods to add to your list.
- Eastmoreland is home to 4,000 people and has a violent crime rate 56% lower than average for the city. It’s one of the safest neighborhoods in Portland for families with kid-friendly amenities like the Eastmoreland Park Nature Playground and the Oaks Amusement Park.
- Bridlemile is a safe and action-packed community near the Portland Children’s Museum and the Oregon Zoo. Located in Southwest Portland, part of Bridlemile is in the city proper and part is in the unincorporated part of the county.
- Hillsdale has a crime rate about half that of Portland with 27% less violent crime than the national average. While it’s a bit more expensive than average for Portland, it’s one of the most affordable neighborhoods in Portland with low crime. Most crime in the neighborhood is non-violent property crime.
You can learn more about the safest Portland neighborhoods here to help you narrow down your options and choose a community where you feel safe living.
Portland Safety Tips – How to Avoid Crime in Portland, OR
- Be aware of your surroundings, especially in the downtown area. Portland has many homeless camps, particularly in Old Town and the West Burnside part of downtown which has many homeless camps and should be avoided at night.
- Avoid the Hazelwood area around the Gateway Transit Center which has one of the city’s highest rates of violent crime. Another area to avoid is between Duke and Johnson from 70th east, known as “Felony Flats” by locals.
- Bike theft is a common crime in Portland. Make sure you always use an adequate bike lock.
Portland Police Bureau Information & Statistics
- Police Chief: Chuck Lovell
- Portland sworn officers: 889 (268 civilian personnel)
- Non-emergency number: (503) 823-3333
- Address: 1111 S.W. 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204
The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) is overseen by five City Commissioners with the mayor of Portland typically assigned as police commissioner. The PPB serves three precincts, each with up to 20 districts that are assigned one or two patrol officers.
The bureau has several specialty divisions:
- Air Support Unit
- Behavioral Health Unit
- Criminal Intelligence Unit
- Human Trafficking
- Detective Division includes Person Crimes, Property Crimes, and Sex Crimes Unit
- Narcotics and Organized Crime
- Public Safety Support Specialists
- Special Emergency Reaction Team
- Traffic Unit
- Youth Services Division
- Canine Unit
- Bike Patrol
- Family Services Division with the Special Victims Unit, Child Abuse Team, and Immigrant & Refugee Community
Portland Crime Rate FAQ
What are the bad areas of Portland, OR?
A small number of neighborhoods account for most violent crime in Portland. This includes Centennial, Hazelwood, Lents, downtown, and Powellhurst-Gilbert.
What is the crime rate in Portland, Oregon?
The Portland, OR crime rate is 5,748 crimes per 100k people. The violent crime rate is 545 violent crimes/100,000 people with a property crime rate of 5,203 property crimes/100,000 people.
Is Portland, OR safe?
Portland has a higher crime rate than the national average, but Portland is a safe place to live with less crime than most large cities.
Portland’s crime rate may seem high, but it’s largely confined to a handful of areas. There are tons of safe places to live in Portland that offer family-friendly amenities and safety. Once you’ve settled on a Portland community to call home, give the Portland movers at PDX Movers a call for a free moving quote!