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Agencies split law and order duty near new trail area

On the land around what will be the full Old Town Loop Trail, any crime or problems fall under four separate jurisdictions.

On the B Street part of the trail, the Forest Grove Police Department (FGPD) is responsible for the north entrance and an additional 50 yards before moving into Washington County Sheriff’s Office territory.

The spot is on officers’ radars and one they try to frequent, occasionally going beyond the city limits to check farther along the trails. “But it gets challenging to go farther out towards the creek if we are at minimum staffing levels as we need to be close to our cars to respond to emergency calls,” said FGPD Captain Mike Herb. “Officers otherwise have to hike some distance to get to the active areas around Gales Creek — and many campers hear or see us coming and leave the camp areas to an off-trail location.”

The Oregon Department of Transportation is in charge of the land under the Highway 47 bridge, a popular homeless camp spot.

Metro contracts with an arm of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to enforce the no-camping laws and to conduct cleanups and sweeps of the area, including two over the summer the FGPD assisted on, Herb said.

Herb said police haven’t received any reports of violence or assaults on the trail, but several callers have reported that homeless people have made them feel uncomfortable. Others simply report their suspicion that homeless people are camping nearby and using drugs.

In his experience as a

park ranger and working as

a compliance officer, Forest Grove Parks Supervisor

Matt Baum said increas-

ed visibility — which will

come with more trail

users — usually decreases problems.