PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Police Bureau says its plan to make Northeast Portland’s Holladay Park a safer place has shown meaningful results so far this summer.
Police teamed up with churches and youth organizations to hold activities in Holladay Park during the summer, with clean-ups, mentorships and summer school activities.
The police bureau's Strategic Services Division compiled calls for help in the Holladay Park area from May 5 through July 22 of this year and compared the number of calls to the same time period in 2018.
Highlights include a 50% decrease in assaults, 18% decrease in disturbances and a 45% decrease in thefts in 2019, according to police.
In 2018, the number of assaults, thefts and disturbances all increased in the Holladay Park area.
The park is located across the street from the Lloyd Center mall.
According to police, the bureau received 2,236 calls for help in the Lloyd District in 2018.
Volunteers snagging trash, coupled with Portland police officers and rangers walking around the park, made the Brown family want to visit Holladay Park for the first time this summer.
“Really the park isn’t safe to come and hang out anymore,” Howard Brown said. “Today we came and saw some children here playing and the fountains going so we decided to come out. And we saw police here, so the police presence here is noticeable.”
Nestled between the mall and a MAX stop, Holladay Park is notorious for violent crimes, like shootings and brawls.
"We can't have city parks that are notorious for violent assaults, disturbances, shootings. It is our responsibility along with the community's to help alleviate that problem and any time police and the community can get together and collaborate and bring meaningful results, that’s a win-win,” Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Brad Yakots said.
Organizations involved in the safety plan include Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church, SOLVE, Portland Parks & Recreation, Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, Rosewood Initiative, Portland OIC, Portland Public Schools, Bonneville Power Administration, Lloyd EcoDistrict and Oregon Youth Authority and more.
“I started coming months before a few times and the place was just really dirty and there was trash everywhere... I think there’s more peace here than I have seen before,” Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church member and volunteer Sandra Nelson told KGW. “I did see some bad things happening, too, when was here earlier [this year] but haven’t seen anything like that since."
The goal is to constantly have a positive presence at the park. It makes people who don't plan on being on their best behavior want to stay away.
“It's the community and police working on a problem together. Sometimes it’s literally walking hand in hand through the park, engaging with folks - mostly youth - there,” Sgt. Yakots added.
“I was so proud. It's really wonderful to be part of a group that's making a difference but this is such a special place in Portland so it means a lot to us,” SOLVE CEO Kris Carico said.
Families like the Browns hope this effort continues through the school year, because that's when they see a lot of bad stuff happening.
“We'll see what happens in the fall. That's what I'm looking forward to,” Brown said. “I'm hopeful Holladay Park will once again be a great place for families.”
At the end of the summer, police will run a full statistical analysis and release the results.