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Patrol cops return to SE Precinct...but not yet west of 39th

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Portland Police Bureau Chief Mike Reese says reopening Southeast Precinct is a step in the right direction.After being decommissioned in 2009, the Portland Police Bureau’s Southeast Precinct will again be home base for district officers, Chief Michael Reese announced on Thursday, October 11th.

“The police code ‘10-11’ means a unit is coming into service,” said Captain Mark Kruger, who served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies. So, it is fitting that on October 11th – ‘10-11’ – we’re reopening Southeast Precinct.”

During his remarks, Chief Reese explained, “This is a strategic investment in public safety. It’s a small step in re-creating Southeast Precinct. But it is a big step in moving forward in community engagement. We thank the Southeast community members here today, who never gave up hope that we would be back here with patrol officers and supervisors.”

Reese credited Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz for putting forward the concept of creating a “Public Safety Community Center” at the location that would staff patrol officers, Property Crime, and Criminal Investigations Unit, next door to the Office of Neighborhood Involvement’s Crime Prevention Services hub.

“As in my previous career in psychiatric nursing,” Fritz said, “in police work, there are not that many happy moments. But indeed, this is a happy moment.”

A former East Precinct Neighborhood Response Team sergeant – recently promoted to Lieutenant – Wendi Steinbronn, was given the responsibility of managing the patrol operations, overseeing sixteen officers and four sergeants.

“At this time, the officers are covering ‘day shift’ only, seven days a week,” East Precinct Commander Michael Lee told THE BEE.

“Specifically, these are the officers working districts 900, 910 and 920 – basically the area west of the 82nd Avenue, down the 39th Avenue [Chavez]; from Interstate 84 all the way south to the city line,” Lee stated.

Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood denizen Dick Hazeltine watched the U.S. flag raised, and listened to the brief speeches at the East Burnside Street police station’s reopening.

“I think it’s really a good thing – because Brentwood-Darlington is halfway between east and downtown,” Hazeltine said. “I'm glad to see it happen – and I’m sorry that they closed it down a couple of years ago.”

THE BEE asked the big question: Will all of the area once served by Southeast Precinct once again be served from this building?

“As far as the rest of the ‘old precinct’ returning home, there is no timeline,” said Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson. “The substation opening is a start. But, with serious budget constraints, it’s difficult to see any additional change for some time.” And that means that, for now, Inner Southeast west of 39th [Chavez] will still be served by Central Precinct, based downtown.