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Officers reconnect with local concerns

TRIB TOWN: Budget shuffle sends police back to some neighborhood meetings

Portland police officers once again are attending neighborhood association meetings.

The Portland Police Bureau's Neighborhood Liaison Officer program had been suspended because of budget problems. But the bureau reallocated some money, and now district patrol officers are attending the neighborhood meetings, most of which occur in the evening.

'In the past, we didn't want to pay if it was an overtime issue, but now we're guaranteeing that neighborhood patrol officers get to these events at least four times a year,' bureau spokesman Sgt. Brian Schmautz said.

Officers already have attended some meetings in Southwest Portland, which has five patrol districts, according to Michael Boyer, the crime prevention coordinator for Southwest Neighborhoods Inc., the coalition office representing associations in that part of town.

'The overall goal of the Portland Police Bureau is to improve livability and community policing, not only in Southwest Portland, but throughout the entire city,' he said.

As a result of the meetings, the bureau's Neighborhood Response Team partnered with the Central Precinct Street Crimes Unit for several drug and traffic enforcement missions.

On Feb. 26, responding to resident complaints about possible drug activity, the officers made two arrests on drug and theft charges after stopping a car leaving a home in the 5000 block of Southwest Cameron Street.

An investigation led to another drug arrest at a motel in the 10000 block of Southwest Capitol Highway that same day.

Then, on March 12, following up on another complaint of possible drug activity, the officers stopped a vehicle leaving a house in the 5100 block of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. Two people were arrested after a search of the car turned up cocaine.

Police returned to the house that evening with a search warrant, found an ounce of the drug and arrested a third person.

That morning, the officers focused on speed and pedestrian safety violations in Hillsdale and Multnomah Village, issuing numerous citations and warnings. They returned to the village area March 15, concentrating on school zones.

That week, the officers also placed a mobile traffic safety radar reader board on several streets to inform drivers of their speed.

The reinstatement of the Neighborhood Liaison Officer program coincides with the restoration of other recent budget cuts at the bureau. As of March 18, all police precincts are open until midnight. They had been closing at 5 p.m. because of financing problems caused by the poor economy.