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Police prepare for Springwater Trail clear-out

Increased patrols to communicate with homeless campers

OUTLOOK PHOTO - Where will the homeless go after the sweeps begin on August 1?With the impending Portland Springwater Corridor Trail clear-out looming, the Gresham Police Department is prepared for a potential influx of of homeless campers moving further into East Multnomah County.

Spearheaded by the Portland Police Bureau and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, hundreds of campers will be displaced starting Monday, Aug. 1. Gresham Police’s Neighborhood Enforcement Team (NET) will increase its presence along the Springwater Corridor in response.

With the extra patrols, NET will work to communicate with campers and maintain the trust they have built over the past two years. They will hand out resource fliers and continue to have open lines of dialogue they have worked to build, the department said.

“It’s not about eradication, it’s about limiting the number of campers grouped together,” said Dan Estes, a Gresham Police officer who is also on NET.

When camps are identified as needing to be cleaned, officers contact the occupants and give them 24 to 48 hours to vacate. When these notices are given on Thursday or Friday, officers usually give campers the weekend to leave.

The city of Gresham contracts with Central City Concern, which works with officers to clean up campsites.

“Local campers are always respectful and adhere to our requests when they’re asked to vacate the property for cleanup,” Estes said. “We want to continue this relationship, because the way we are currently doing things is working for both sides.”

In March, the city and police department created extra patrols with uniformed officers working in pairs to increase security along the trail. Bike patrols began at the end of the school year, staffed by Schools Resource Officers out on summer break from their normal assignments. This added four additional officers to the Springwater Trail, city parks and the downtown area.

The city also hired two park rangers who patrol the trail and city parks seven days a week.

Officers will continue to contact and partner with local business owners who are having issues with trespassing, so the camping doesn’t affect their businesses or livelihood.

Gresham police have set up a neighborhood complaint line for community members to report livability issues within the city. For information, call 503-618-2NET.