Eugene, Ore. – In the wake of increasing concerns and calls for remedy by individuals and Downtown businesses, Eugene Street Crimes Unit created a special enforcement effort with Downtown Team. The two units, along with Patrol unit officers on overtime will conduct a two week saturation of downtown through February 12. The operation expands hours of public safety visibility, and interrupts any criminal and disorderly conduct to set a safe and welcoming tone for the area.
“EPD SCU was created through the Community Safety Initiative for just these types of situations,” said Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner. “They expand our capacity to be creative and work through quality of life problems that crop up. With this operation, we are going to set expectations for behavior in the area. One significant challenge we are working through with this program is a revolving door to persistent crime created by an increasing population, lack of critical mental health and addiction treatment options, and the justice system capacity, which means a higher number of capacity-based releases.
This has been having a visible impact on our Downtown quality of life, as in Eugene in general. For Downtown, our operational goal will be to make the area feel welcoming for everyone that lives, visits or works in the area regardless of status. This program is geared to directly address and trouble-shoot some of the issues that people in the downtown area have been reporting to us and through 911. Our operation is designed to create more relationships and trust, as well as to set a tone for the area about what is acceptable. Police officers will be out of their vehicles talking with everyone in the area and visiting businesses, to listen to their issues and concerns.”
In the first week, SCU reported arrests on 18 warrants, and arrests or citations for the following: two Open Container, one Prohibited Smoking, one Public Use Marijuana, one Defecating in Public, one False Information to Police, one Activity Zone Acts Prohibited, and two Physical Harassment cases.
In addition to area presence, the teams will be meeting with stakeholders in the Downtown Activity Zone (Lincoln Street to High Street and 6th Avenue to 11th Avenue). Since the majority of unwanted behavior happens after 5 p.m., there will be overtime shifts working the evening and through the night, especially on the weekends. The teams began their work on January 30, and have staffed a larger than usual number of uniformed officers working in Downtown addressing everything from simple violations up to felony level crimes. There will be multiple operations through the two weeks.
Eugene Police Street Crimes Unit
The SCU has been focusing on prolific offenders, who are identified through intelligence-based policing, public tips and other sources. They have been proactively responding across the city to quality of life issues as they arise, using all available resources and partners such as community groups, neighborhood associations and city services. SCU is dedicated to targeting immediate and acute community safety system issues while working toward mission-critical enhancements that need to be addressed through a longer-term and broader community safety initiative. The unit currently consists of a lieutenant, a sergeant and five officers, including one officer with a drug detection K9.