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Another Young Life Tragically Cut Short

The need for alternatives to the streets

Loretta Smith | 2/21/2017, 4:55 p.m.
Too many young people in our community are at risk of suffering the same fate as Quanice Hayes because they ...
Loretta Smith

Our community recently shed tears for yet another young life tragically cut short in a police shooting. According to those who knew him best, Quanice Hayes was a much loved young man, full of life and promise. His family mourns his loss, and we mourn with them.

Mayor Wheeler and the Portland Police Bureau have pledged a full investigation. They have my full support and confidence.

One thing is certain: Too many young people in our community are at risk of suffering the same fate as Quanice Hayes because they lack meaningful alternatives to the streets. Right now, today, right here in Multnomah County, there are 30,000 young people ages 16 to 24 who are not in school or at a job.

When I first got into office in 2011, I held a community meeting and asked the black and brown men in the room what it was they needed. Jobs and jobs training, they said.

These young people need opportunities to gain life skills, job training, mentorship, and positive role models.

We know this works! For too long we have failed to prioritize programs that can help at-risk teens get a foothold on opportunity and become productive members of our community.

Let's not wait for the death of another of our youth to act - let's grow these investments in critical programs today. Together, there's nothing we can't conquer.

Loretta Smith is a member of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, representing north and northeast Portland.