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Enhanced Security in North Park Blocks

 

Officer Dave McCormick (L) Park Ranger Sam Sachs and Officer Nick Newby
Officer Dave McCormick (L) Park Ranger Sam Sachs and Officer Nick Newby

A big thank you to Mayor Hales and the Police Bureau for the increased Police presence in the North Park Blocks this week. We’re grateful our collective voice is being heard.

The Neighborhood response van was a much welcomed sight to see here yesterday and throughout the day.  (Especially in front of the Emerson School.) The officers who are patrolling the park are very professional and show calm assertive leadership.  While we appreciate the presence of the Park Rangers – the uniformed police officers have a powerful impact.

Today we observed Park Ranger Sam Sachs write up and exclude from the park for 30 days three people who were openly drinking in the park.  He was “diplomatic” throughout the incident and  assertive in adherence to park rules .

Your continued efforts and focus on park safety are greatly appreciated. This coordinated presence is a deterrent to criminal activities in the park and helps restore the North Park Blocks as a safe public space for all to enjoy.

Park Decay is Not a “Haves vs Have Nots” Issue

North Park Blocks Vandalism
North Park Blocks Vandalism

Mayor Hales & Commissioner Fritz –

I am one of the many concerned citizens actively trying to clean up the North Park Blocks of illegal activities.  I am writing to you both directly since I haven’t been able to attend the meetings led by Michelle Cardinal of R2C Group.

I am in a smaller minority within this committed group whose personal life & financial livelihood has been effected on a daily basis by the criminal element plaguing the North Park Blocks.  I reside in the neighborhood and also own a  business nearly.  I have seen first-hand, 24/7 the rapid decline of the area this past summer.

After hearing about Mayor Hales meeting this past Tuesday at City Hall, I am mainly concerned with Commissioner Fritz’ nonchalant attitude & comment to our problem stating “the parks are for everyone” then leaving only after staying for 20 minutes.  Has Fritz seen the “everyone” that concerns us as residents & business owners?  If not, I am attaching pictures again for her education. (See one above)

We are talking about not those unfortunate people that are truly homeless but criminals taking advantage of the system by choice, preying not only on tax-paying citizens & tourists but also on exactly these folks down on their luck trying to simply survive, regain their dignity & recover from their demons.

I find it insulting & read the undertones of Fritz’ comment that insinuates those of us voicing our concerns are simply the “haves” against the “have nots”.

Speaking for myself & my husband, we are deeply aware & concerned for the homeless not only in our neighborhood but citywide.  Each year since relocating here, we actively contribute to fundraisers for Central City Concern, Insight, Cascade Aids Project & Junior Achievement because these socially enlightened programs are one of the many wonderful things that inspired us to live in this wonderful city.

I recently read in The Portland Business Journal comments by Tripwire’s retiring CEO, Jim Johnson that sums up things perfectly – “The thing we run the risk on – Portland is a jewel & there are wonderful things in Portland – but we are tolerant of not-so-good behavior”.  Portland has rightfully become a destination for national & international tourist because of the natural splendor in the surrounding areas co-existing with urban flare of unique shopping, world-class food & of course beer.

Open Table has just named 7 of Portland’s restaurants in their Top 100 restaurants in the US & among them is Park Kitchen, one of my personal favorites.  Recently, I met a lovely couple visiting from Washington, DC shopping neighborhood & I recommended they eat at Park Kitchen to which they replied “we just passed the park & it is very scary during the day, we wouldn’t dream of going there at night for dinner”…my heart sank & I was speechless!  How do I defend that when I see the truth in that statement?  My heart breaks as a proud business owner trying to survive in an otherwise tough retail environment & also hearing that my fellow business owners have been struggling since the decline of the park in recent months.

If our mayor & city council member doesn’t see the economic implications in ignoring this problem, then I don’t think they deserve the position of leading a city that is growing & gaining worldwide recognition.  It is the hard-working businesses & residents of Portland that are paying taxes to fund social programs, upgrade municipal infrastructure & pay city employees salaries.

We need beefed up city police presence in the parks, the park rangers & out-sourced security teams like Pacific Patrol aren’t equipped to deal with the mess invading the area.  We will keep up the pressure through television & newspaper media, social media until our needs are addressed.  With Emerson School directly impacted by the NPB, the city is setting itself up for a legal nightmare if something tragic happens to a child.  One of the lesser but still very dangerous concerns I have been calling the city about over the past few months is travelers vandalizing lamp posts exposing electrical wires to charge their electronic equipment (I have included those images too).

I look forward to hearing from you on this urgent matter, thank you in advance!

KATU-TV: Park Drugs, Public Sex, Off-Leash Dog Attacks

KATU-TV’s Jackie Labrecque reports on the break down of the North Park Blocks – drugs, public sex, off-leash dog attacks.

Note: Aug 25th – In an attempt to restore order to the North Park Blocks, the city began to cordon off the park with barbwire-topped chainlink fencing. More

KATU-TV ~ PORTLAND, Ore. — Neighbors in North Park Blocks have had enough of people using drugs, camping out for days, and even having sex in the middle of a public park in broad daylight.

The area runs along the south part of the Pearl District, and neighbors are begging city leaders to do something about it.

“Just in the past couple of months, the influx of homeless has been crazy,” said Amy Mullen, who takes her son to the park regularly around the city. It is his favorite, but she would rather avoid it.

NPB Burnside / Nw Park 8-12-15
NPB Burnside / NW Park 8-12-15

“People are shooting up, just out in the open. People are having sex, people are drinking. People are camping, they’re littering,” said Tami French, who lives right along the park.

French is fed up, and to make matters worse, her dog was attacked Saturday by another dog.

“It was the most horrifying experience. I thought he was going to kill my dog. I could not get this dog off of Yogi.”

French filed a report with Multnomah County Animal Services, and snapped a photo they asked us to include in our video report. They hope it will help them identify the owner who took off. Neighbors say the man hangs around the park a lot and the dog is rarely on a leash.

“We stand at that corner and look to see, Okay, where is the safest place to walk our dogs because there’s illegal activity occurring all the time in the park,” French explained.

Neighbors are posting each crime on their website, and are continuously calling on city leaders to do something. Police say they are aware of the pictures neighbors are posting of people having sex and shooting up and are addressing the problem with regular patrols.

While out talking with neighbors, the KATU crew ran into Bruce Stephenson who studies city planning.

“I’m trying to figure out how the park blocks are used,” Stephenson explained.

The professor from Florida is writing a book about the Pearl District. Each day he observes the North Park Blocks.

“What I’ve seen over the last two months is an increase of people with camping gear in the park blocks,” he said.

The very spaces moms would love to enjoy again with their kids.

“It’s understandable, it’s an unfortunate situation,” Mullen said. “But it isn’t fair. We’re a little nervous having a small child here.”

“Definitely, I would like to feel safe taking my kids to the neighborhood park,” said Jennifer Vesbit, who was at the park with Mullen.

Notes From the Field

I watched as 2 bicycle rangers with Portland Parks & Rec talk to a couple men in the park with their off-leash dog. The men and dog immediately left. Phil and I went over to talk to the rangers-2 very nice young men—Josh Schubert and Hunter Bronson. The rangers said the men were being “raucous” and they simply asked them to take their argument elsewhere and they left mostly likely because of the uniforms and badge. Other people sleeping nearby were not breaking the law and the rangers let them be. They told us that there were just 4 Portland Parks & Rec rangers patrolling all of Portland’s parks during the day because of budget constraints. At night, the Pacific Patrol patrols the parks. They said the Portland Parks & Rec and Portland Police are very understaffed because of budget cuts.

They gave us a business cards with these #s on the back as well as a web site for reporting problems and posting pictures. I have not had a chance to check out the web site.

Crimes in Progress 9-1-1
Police Non-Emergency (503) 823-3333
Park Rangers (503) 823-1637
Park Problems www.ParkScanpdx.org
Parks Customer Service (503) 823-2525
Animal Control (503) 988-7387
www.PortlandParks.org
www.park.rangers & portlandoregon.gov

I looked up the numbers for Pacific Patrol and Clean & Safe. See below.

Pacific Patrol (503) 595-3440
Clean & Safe (503) 224-7383

Portland Police iPhone App

Police_App

Description
The Portland (OR) Police Bureau is committed to building strong relationships across the community in order to improve public safety and livability in neighborhoods and to enhance community trust in the police. The members of the Portland Police Bureau are committed to innovation and high quality customer service.

There is new Portland Police iPhone App. (Go to App Store on your iPhone. Search on Portland Police. App is called Portland Police Bureau Mobile.)

Buttons on the app include:
News
Crime Maps
Alerts
Crime Stoppers (See * below)
Commendation
Complaint
YouTube
Facebook (See ** below)
Twitter (See *** below)

*Crime Stoppers-After you enter a message, you can enter a password then you will get a code. You’ll need the password and code to follow up on the incident to see if they did anything. I didn’t see how to attach a picture though.
**Facebook-Takes you to Facebook page, two button-Join and Log In. I haven’t done this yet. I assume you can send pictures after you Join.
***Twitters-Take you to Twitter page, two button-Join and Log In also Follow. I haven’t done this yet. I assume you can send pictures after you Join.