Crime is up slightly in Woodburn
- Jeff McDonald
- Woodburn Independent - News
Crime continues to rise in Woodburn, according to data released by the Woodburn Police Department.
There were 86 more criminal offenses through the first seven months of the year, a 4.9 percent increase, compared with the same period last year, according to the Woodburn Police Department.
Last year, the number of crimes reported jumped 5.2 percent from 2011.
Any time we see an increase in crime, were concerned, said Chief Scott Russell. At the same time, its not a huge jump. We could still see significant increase or decrease in the next three months (of the year).
Issues driving crime rates include a strained criminal justice system, drug use and police staffing reductions, Chief Russell said.
We are concerned about repeat offenders and a lack of sanction for those repeat offenders, he said. As opposed to seeing a whole bunch of new people doing crimes, were seeing the same folks.
There have been five armed robberies this year, including three on North Pacific Highway, or 99E, but Chief Russell said armed robberies are up only slightly over 2012.
By comparison, there had been four armed robberies at this point in 2012, Russell said.
At the same time, arrests were up 20.6 percent this year, an indication that WPD is catching up with the problem.
Russell credited the departments focus on information-based policing for clearing cases and increasing arrests over the last year.
We try to target the resources weve got in the right place, he said.
The department uses www.crimereports.com to pinpoint where criminal activity is occurring and focus its resources in that area, Russell said.
Downtown business owner Bruce Thomas credited WPD for eradicating what used to be more visible gang activity around Woodburn. He would like to see more downtown on-foot patrol over the weekends, he said.
I think our community is just as good as any other crime-wise, Thomas said. In the past, we had everything from nuisance crimes to gang crimes. But I think for a community of (nearly) 30,000, were doing pretty dang good.
Retired attorney Lucien Klein said he believes Woodburns crime issues are a reflection of what is happening everywhere in Oregon.
I feel far safer in Woodburn than Portland, Salem or Keizer, he said. We are fortunate that we have a community that supports its police force, contrary to Portland where the police force cant do anything right, at least in its citizens eyes.