By Steve Elder | CNA Media Team
Portland deputy police chief Bob Day told Concordia neighbors his boss, Chief Danielle Outlaw, has a new perspective for the Portland Police Bureau. Her three primary challenges for the bureau are:
- Crime prevention and reduction
- Community engagement and inclusion
- Organizational excellence.
When the deputy chief spoke at the Nov. 7 Concordia Neighborhood Association annual meeting, he listed several livability issues that face Portland police and the community.
Homelessness – or houselessness – are largely West Coast issues, he said. “On a recent visit I made with my wife to Washington, D.C., we were struck that there weren’t people living on the streets like you see here.
“They’re just swept up. I don’t think you can just arrest your way out of a homeless situation. I see this as a community health issue, not strictly a police issue.”
The deputy chief believes many homeless people are dealing with mental health and drug abuse issues.
“In Portland we have a Law Enforcement Assistance Diversion Program, or LEAD. If a person is caught with a small amount of drugs on him we immediately call an outreach worker. We’re not going to charge you if you connect and are working with a social worker.
“Another area around the focus on crime reduction deals with what we term ‘livability issues,’” he said. “The most high-profile conflicts we’ve had are between Patriot Prayer and Antifa. It has taken up a lot of time figuring out what’s the best way to express first amendment rights and be safe.”
One of the means used by police is separating potentially violent demonstrators. One group will be allowed to demonstrate in one block and another in another block. “In some communities, like Berkley, they have ordinances against wearing masks,” he explained.
Reconnecting with the community for police involves racial issues. “About four years ago began a racial equity plan throughout the police bureau and throughout the city,” he said. “We have classes taught by a community member and a police officer.”
Another issue police deal with frequently is extremism and nationalism. “It’s been hard for us,” the deputy chief explained.
“In general, police are reactive. I’d like to see us be more proactive. I’d like to see us get out in front of some of these things. We realize that in Portland we need to be more proactive and forward thinking.”
Steve Elder, East2@ ConcordiaPDX.org, is an inactive lawyer, a developer, activist and old grouch.