Problematic Behavior Or Activity
The area in and around Sandy Blvd. from NE 99th Ave. to NE 122nd Ave. has historically suffered from high levels of chronic disorder and crime. Three chronic problems emerged to drastically impact livability in the area. First, ongoing camping and littering in a cemetery near NE 99th Ave. just north of NE Sandy Blvd. was creating health hazards and encouraging crime in the area. Second, a large encampment of recreational vehicles had taken up resident one block north of Sandy Blvd on Marx Rd. This also created a highly criminogenic environment with businesses reporting repeated thefts which they attributed to the campers. Finally, a cluster of business consisting of a bar, a lottery establishment and hotel where driving both crime and high call loads.
The impact on the community was assessed through four ways, including conducting a community survey, attending additional community group meetings as suggested by survey respondents, and attending other community activities such as a panel discussion on how to help individuals living on the streets in the area.
Key findings from the community survey conducted by PSU and PPB included:
Issues involving social disorder (Drug/Alcohol, Prostitution, Property Crime etc.) were the top public safety concern among respondents.
Respondents consistently identified an area running along N.E. Sandy Blvd. (about two blocks on each side) and N.E. Prescott St. from east to west. This area is consistent with the identified problems.
As part of the survey respondents were asked what sorts approaches they would like police to take in addressing the areas issues.
They asked the PPB to:
Provide additional non-investigatory foot patrols
Attend more community meetings
Expand police participation in community events
The results of this survey were presented at community events such as the Parkrose Business Alliance luncheon, Parkrose Neighborhood Association meetings, PSAC meetings and meetings with Historic Parkrose.
Based on community feedback, the PPB Crime Analysis Unit did a Calls for Service (CFS) analysis of NE Sandy and found the following:
The motel near NE 112th and Sandy was the highest call generator in the area with 87 calls between January 2017 and February 2017.
The bar across the street from the motel (26 CFS) and the lottery establishment adjacent to the motel (20 CFS) also generated a large number of calls.
A pocket near NE 102nd and Sandy Blvd. was identified as having a heavy call load. The issues identified centered around NE 115th and NE Sandy Blvd. form a triangle where the combination of motels, bars and lottery venues encouraged criminal activity. The pocket near NE 102 and Sandy Blvd appeared related to the issues at the cemetery.
The public safety survey results supported this analysis. 64% of survey respondents identified this area as the most problematic in Parkrose Neighborhood.
For more information, please see map.
The program attempted to utilize a problem-oriented policing (POP) approach on the identified issues. PPB developed partnerships with:
- Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement(ONI- now the Office of Community and Civic Life) Crime Prevention Program
- Parkrose Business Alliance (PBA)
- Historic Parkrose
Marx Rd. was addressed by limiting parking after business hours and limiting parking in the area for recreational vehicles. This allowed the large scale encampments which had become entrenched in the area to be addressed.
A series of enforcement efforts were conducted in the area of NE 110th to 115th avenue and NE Sandy Blvd, resulting in over 20 arrests, the recovery of multiple ounces of heroin and other narcotics, prostitution arrests and arrests for unlawful use of a motor vehicle. To maintain these gains, community groups hired a security guard being to patrol this intersection.
To address the issues near the cemetery local home owners, a marijuana dispensary and Metro (a regional government) worked with the partnership to clean the area, install a fence, and increase police patrols.
Based On Research
The issues identified and tactics used to address them were identified by community members. A community advisory panel was also formed to help ensure the program remains focused on the issues important to area stakeholders.
Second, the approach is grounded in problem-oriented policing (POP) and also employs high visibility patrol/hot spot policing principles.
This initiative borrowed ideas found in the programs related to the Hot Spots Policing - Practice Profile on crimesolutions.gov
PPB efforts were primarily funded through a micro-grant from the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. Area businesses contributed substantial amounts of money to many of the efforts, including hiring a security guard, installing fencing and funding community events such as barbeques. Historic Parkrose provided both logistic support and space. They also housed an intern for the PPB, whose primary job was working on social media such as Nextdoor and working with business to quickly identify emerging issues. ONI provided staff and helped organize and host meetings and community events. PNA and PBA members contributed substantial amounts of their time to the project.
The program was very successful at reducing property crime and societal type crimes (National Incident Based Reporting Crime categories) in Parkrose. City-wide property crime was down 2.93% and society crime was down 8.86% in a pre-post comparison looking at September to November and comparing it with June through August of 2017. By comparison property crime in Parkrose fell 28.73% and societal crime dropped 38.71% during the same time frame. While crime was falling citywide during this time, Parkrose saw a much larger decreases in crime and disorder than the rest of the City of Portland.
To help determine if this was due to the initiative one of the areas (the area surrounding NE 112th and NE Sandy) was examined. The area observed a 25% reduction in property crime and a 50% reduction in societal offenses. While it is not possible to attribute the entire drop of crime and disorder in the neighborhood to this initiative, it does appear that the POP efforts were associated with the reduction.
This effort did not appear to impact reported violent crime. In fact, there was an observed increase in violent crime in the area (from 3 person offenses to 5 offenses). The small number of offenses made it difficult to determine if this was related to the efforts in the area but is important for ongoing monitoring.
Critical Success Factors
There were three primary keys to the success of this program.
Partnerships – It is impossible to overemphasize the important of partnerships to the success of these efforts. ONI and Historic Parkrose both provided invaluable logistic and technical support. DPSST provided funding, The PBA and PNA both provided committed members to oversee efforts and help inform the police.
Resource – The partnerships desribed above resulted in a number of resources - food, manpower, money, supplies - that may have otherwise been missing from this project.
A POP approach – This effort was successful because it took a POP approach. All three areas were substantially improved through and remain improved due to this approach. Simple enforcement would not have resulted in the more lasting gains.
Enforcement was a necessary but not sufficient component to the success of this project. The enforcement efforts helped restore some order to the area but without the focus on the underlying problems the area would have degenerated back to its original state. There were also a number of ancillary benefits, for instance the POP approach helped the PPB form long-term relationships with key players in the neighborhood. This has proved useful in other efforts as the area still has a number of public safety issues.