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Police strive to become part of community


Officers say they need residents to be their eyes, ears

Sandy Police Chief Kim Yamashita and officers Sam Craven and Bill Wetherbee summed up their first month and a half as Estacada’s main law enforcement providers during the Chamber Lunch Forum Friday, Oct. 18, at Wong’s King Chinese Restaurant.

In May, the Estacada City Council voted to contract with the Sandy Police Department, ending a contract with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services that had been in place since 1978.

The Sandy Police Department officially became the primary law enforcement provider in Estacada on Sept. 1.

Craven told the lunch-goers that the city of Estacada pays for 80 hours of patrol service each week, which is the same amount of time they’d paid for with the county.

The times of the patrol service will not be made public.

“We want those people that don’t have good intentions to not know when we’re going to be on,” Craven said.

Yamashita had high praise for Craven and Wetherbee, the officers who applied and were accepted to the Estacada post.

“They’re not out there writing (a ticket) to anything that moves and they’re not arresting anything that moves... They’re trying to integrate into the community,” Yamashita said.

The officers invited the lunch-goers to ask questions.

A woman asked if the officers had seen evidence of gangs in Estacada.

“I haven’t seen any substantiation of gangs being out here,” Wetherbee said, then added that he had only been on duty in Estacada about two months.

“I grew up in L.A. I can tell you we don’t have a gang problem here,” Yamashita said, drawing laughs.

Conversation turned to Wade Creek Park.

Wetherbee said he hasn’t noticed any new graffiti in the skate park since coming on duty in Estacada.

He said he suspected people had been staying in the bathroom all night and that he’d brought this concern to city officials.

The bathrooms are now locked after hours.

A lunch-goer asked what business owners can do to help law enforcement.

“Anything you can do to make your business more visible for us,” Wetherbee said.

He noted that good lighting and surveillance equipment are helpful.

Craven added that if businesses can’t afford operational surveillance equipment — not a “dummy” camera — it would serve as a crime deterrent.

DEFY (Drug Free Estacada Families & Youth) Director Susie Tracy brought up the importance of citizens reporting suspicious activities.

“We have to use your eyes as our eyes,” Wetherbee agreed.

He added that he’s noticed that people in Estacada have the peculiar habit of waiting to report something until they can speak in person with an officer.

Wetherbee said it’s more helpful to officers for citizens to call in suspicious activity immediately as it cuts down the time between potential crimes and police response.

“If you see anything, at that moment, call us,” Wetherbee said. “Timing is our biggest ally.”

He added that people may call the Sandy Police Department’s non-emergency number, 503-655-8211, to report suspicious persons or activity.