PORTLAND -- Police are trying to stop street level crimes in problem parts of Portland. Starting Tuesday, nine officers and a sergeant are hitting the streets as part of a new squad.
The officers will choose whether to bike, walk, ride ATVs or drive through areas of downtown, the central eastside and the Southeast Hawthorne district in the afternoons.
They want to be visible and look for public drinking, urination, open-air drug deals, all things visitors regularly complain about seeing and being intimidated by.
"This is an old-fashioned walking beat, dealing with anything we come across," explained officer Brad Yakots.
Cassidy Allen works at the Riverside Tobacco Market on Southwest 3rd Avenue and Burnside Street. She said she sees all kinds of low-level crime right outside the store. She's looking forward to seeing the new patrol unit because she says homeless "regulars" aren't the problem.
"In the summertime when kids come up from wherever it's cold, they definitely inundate us with a lot of street kids, which is not really the homeless that live here," Allen said. "That's why I think it would sort of be good to have cops here more."
Several business owners also said they hope the new patrols will help prevent problems associated with summer travelers or road warriors. Last summer, an influx of summer transients created all kinds of problems downtown.
These officers will mostly be free of responding to 911 calls, unless they're closest. The whole idea is to have them be in those communities regularly, talking to the people.
This all stemmed from the March stabbing of a homeless man during a fight under the Burnside Bridge.
The unit will patrol until November 1st.
KGW reporter Kyle Iboshi also contributed to this report.