PORTLAND, Ore -- Just in time for the holiday shopping season to kick into high gear, Portland’s mayor and police bureau are rolling out two plans to increase police presence downtown and in other retail hubs across the city.
One such plan is indefinite and confined to the city’s downtown core.
The mayor’s office debuted it at a meeting with business leaders Tuesday night.
It revolves around a map of downtown, that highlights high pedestrian zones in red and blue. Red represents Phast 1 and blue represents Phase 2, said the mayor’s spokesman Michael Cox, though he couldn’t confirm the exact timing of either stage.
People living, working and shopping along those corridors, he said, will soon see more officers stationed along those routes.
They’ll also see signs informing the public that laws against camping, drug use and other illicit activities will be strictly enforced.
“What that does is it alerts people in the area to the rights of way, in terms of not camping, things like no drug use, violence, theft,” Cox said.
He added the idea is to test the plan in downtown and eventually try to expand the program east toward other high-traffic areas like the Lloyd Center.
Sandra, McDonough, president of the Portland Business Alliance, attended Tuesday’s meeting and was pleased with the plan.
“They presented today some real solutions that are going to help deal with the livability issues that people see,” she said. “We love Portland. We want people to feel safe.”
The second plan, rolled out this week, will start on Black Friday and last through Christmas, and will involve the Portland Police Bureau reassigning officers to busy retail hubs across the city.
“Some of the officers will be coming from our neighborhood response teams, our street crimes units,” said Bureau spokesman Sergeant Chris Burley.
In the East precinct, Burley said, officers will be reassigned to spots like the Gateway shopping area and Eastport Plaza.
In the North precinct, they’ll focus on busy shopping hubs on Hayden Island.
In the Central precinct, downtown will remain the top priority.
Sgt. Burley pointed out officers will be out educating shoppers about one type of crime in particular: car break-ins.
“The police bureau always talks about having a car that's 'showroom clean,' " he said. “Anything you leave in your car can be enticing to someone, and we want to make your vehicle as least enticing as possible.”
Sgt. Burley said specific numbers and details regarding reassignments for both plans are still being worked out, and he acknowledged the moves will spread the Bureau’s staff thin, especially as they try to keep up with staffing demands for major events, like this weekend’s PK80 Phil Knight Invitational basketball tournament.
He added there is hope on the horizon, but it will take several months before staffing levels even begin to improve.
“We're currently training 100 brand-new officers that we're trying to get through the process, but that's a year-and-a-half process,” he said.
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