Keep Portland Weird (But Safe)

PDX mounted police

This past summer the North Park Blocks experienced a dramatic rise in unlawful activity – traveling gangs, aggressive panhandlers, drugs, public sex, off-leash dog attacks. That situation was turned around when City Hall finally took notice and Portland Police stepped up their presence to enforce the law in the park.

We saw smart policing based on positive and supportive police interaction with citizens.  But increased police presence in the North Park Blocks required pulling scarce police resources from other Portland neighborhoods. Bottom line  – community-focussed policing is labor-intensive and Portland Police is understaffed to provide adequate safety city wide.

Statistics show that Portland Police is understaffed. The FBI national benchmark calls for 2.7 officers per 1000 residents and Portland has only 1.5. More stats here.

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Public safety has made Portland one of America’s most livable cities. Our community needs our Police Bureau to take calls for service, investigate crimes, confront gang violence, and proactively engage with the public. Having enough police officers to manage these functions will keep Portland a great place to live.

Portland City Council must increase Police Bureau staffing levels to ensure there are enough police officers to meet the City’s public safety priorities.

The Portland Police Association has started a petition to Mayor Hales and Portland City Council. Send a message to City Council – Read more and sign the Petition.

pdx police stats
Click to enlarge graph

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.

Mayor Visits Park – What Happens Next?

Shooting Up in North Park Blocks Sept 3, 2015
Shooting Up in North Park Blocks Sept 3, 2015

Dear Mayor,
Thank you for your walk in the North Park Blocks initiated by the Emerson School this morning. I would like to share with you the events of my day subsequent to your walk.

By noon:

  1. I had to call Clean & Safe to remove shit that someone smeared on one of our office entryway doors. Our offices face the North Park Blocks.
  2. I watched two guys shoot up sitting on the curb on the park block at Flanders & 8th, took photos (on guy above), called the police immediately and gave Portland Police dispatch complete descriptions of what they were wearing and the fact they have a small red grocery cart and a bike. No one showed up nor has the police dept. called me back. And yes, I told Dispatch I had photos.
  3. Two of my employees watched a guy pull down his pants and take a dump in the park (basketball and bocce ball court block) between Flanders and Glisan.It is my understanding that you intend to walk the Park Blocks again in October. I would encourage you to time your walk later in the morning as illegal activities ramp up during the morning. Your walk this morning at 8:00 a.m. was too early for many of the daily illegal activities to start.

Meeting with Mayor Hales – Aug 18, 2015

Crime and Safety report image

Michelle Cardinal the CEO and Co-Founder of R2C Group (and North Park Blocks neighbor) met with Mayor yesterday to bring his attention to our criminal vagrant problem.  She presented this slide deck at the meeting.

Here are Michelle’s  notes from the meeting:

The meeting with the Mayor went well today – thank you for your support and input in our meeting yesterday. Tom Manley from PNCA and Bob Packard from ZGF were also in attendance (who I encourage to please weigh in on my notes or make additions).

The Mayor brought a large group, I didn’t get cards for all of them, but most notable were: Commander Westport – Portland Police, Josh Alpren – Chief of Staff, Patty Howard – Parks (works for Amanda Fritz, there were also representatives from Clean and Safe and Portland Business Alliance and Eloise Damroch – Executive Director of Regional Arts and Culture Council.

We presented PowerPoint deck (download it here: Crime Safety North Park Blocks 2.1MB pdf )and also a short film my employees made – showing exactly how life on park blocks has gotten unbearable. Film included real life testimonials of harassment, drug dealing, vagrancy etc…and overall lack of livability here (your photos were very helpful, thank you!). The video along with hard photos we left behind really made our point – loud and clear – they all seemed a bit speechless. A picture truly is worth a thousand words…

We clearly and concisely laid out our concerns;

We are now experiencing an unprecedented influx of crime led by gangs of drug dealers as well as abnormally large numbers of mentally ill and drug

Addled vagrants threatening our safety. This is not an indictment of the homeless community, instead an attempt to shine a light on a growing and vibrant criminal element who are smart and organized – taking advantage of the truly indigent and needy.

Big picture – Mayor appears to understand big backlash from constituents coming his way on this issue… Attempting to get ahead of it. Was open and willing to dialogue.

Here’s where we netted out: Some short term wins, to disrupt criminal activity in Park and a seat at the table to dialogue with Mayor on this issue.

Wins:

  1. Mayor encouraged creation of our Park Blocks Consortium – (I hope you like the name, I made it up to avoid confusion with PBAlliance) and wants to work with us through creation and expansion of Business Improvement Districts (BID) as Jacob suggested last night.
  2. Tom Manley (PNCA) – successfully floated idea of “Programming the Park” – whereby events are scheduled in the park (music, art, festivals) – to discourage vagrancy/criminal activity and encourage resident and tourist use. This would be partially funded by our Business Improvement District as well as other funding from PNCA. Mayor used “Holiday Park case study as excellent example” – and highly supports this.
  3. Three Week “Park Shut down ” – Mayor and Patty Howard (Parks) – Agreed to “shut park down” for three weeks in preparation for Labor Day Art in the Pearl – for reseeding and repairs of irrigation system. This will require complete clearance and fencing around the park.
  4. Three Week – Temporary “High Pedestrian Zone”on our sidewalks (directly across from Park) – which means no camping of sleeping of any kind.
  5. When Park reopens – Irrigation will turn on at 9AM and 12AM – daily.
  6. More Police will be assigned directly to North Park Blocks – Commander Westport – also gave me information regarding the hiring of “ off duty police” service – (which Jacob referred to last night a tool SW Park Blocks are also using). We would do this through our new BID (and our new Park Blocks Consortium).
    Next meeting – Mayor would like to have a follow-up meeting in two weeks – to follow up on above game plan and include additional people from our group.

Non Starters:

  1. Our request for a “ Drug Impact Area/Exclusion Zone” was shot down – with explanation that District Attorney is no longer prosecuting those cases (due to high failure rate). Failure rate is related to ACLU Claims that these laws unfairly target minorities. (Exclusion Zones were dropped by Potter in 2007 – due to ACLU lobbying – same issue).
  2. Open Town hall/Forum – was also shot down . Mayor wants to have solutions and plan before opening dialogue citywide.

Maybe:

We floated idea of the brand new, unused “Wapato Jail Facility” – to be used for homeless facility . This could be done fairly quickly and provide lots of quality space. This was met with lukewarm enthusiasm – because it is owned by County and too far from city services. Others in the know – think this is great idea. So we should continue to push this.

Concern :

New Methadone clinic is opening in ChinaTown/Oldtown? Not sure of location. Will impact our area.

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