Chief Gene Moss addresses crowd at 10th Spanish-speaking Town Hall

During Saturday’s Spanish-speaking town hall at Centro Cultural in Cornelius, Police Chief Gene Moss told attendees, “We are the new Cornelius. We want to know your problems and help you solve them.”

Through interpreters, Moss explained to more than 20 residents that the department has focused on being out in the community, conducting school outreach, traffic control and pedestrian safety patrols, as well as monitoring sex offenders.

“Statistics for the last year show a 67 percent increase in our participation in these activities. This is significant,” said Moss, adding that there has also been a 25 percent increase in public demand for police services.

In response to a question about dealing with problem youth, Moss said, “The only way we know what’s going on in your neighborhood is for you to call and tell us you need our help. Remember to use the ‘See Something, Say Something’ program’s 503-629-0111 non-emergency number. When you call, we will give extra attention to the area or a particular house.” He also suggested that parents be observant and as much as it’s possible, watch their children going to and from school.

Several people expressed concern about the new law legalizing the use of marijuana and how that might affect their children.

Moss said that they’re still waiting for “fine tuning” of that law by the Legislature: “Until we have clarification from the state, we won’t have a full strategy in place.” Meanwhile, he said, police would stay in the confines of the law and would visit schools to educate students about drug use.

One questioner asked if it was going to be legal for parents to give “weed” to their underage children in their own home.

“That’s one of those areas that’s just not clear,” said Moss. “It might be the same as alcohol given to minors in their home, but we just don’t know yet. That’ll be up to the law makers.”

Hillsboro Police Chief Lee Dobrowolski added that police are just as frustrated as everyone else and that this is a community and family problem.

City Manager Rob Drake said that the city appreciates the tough questions. “We want you to feel safe in your community.”

Prior to the town hall, Drake said that he and City Councilor Dave Schamp had recently attended a League of Oregon Cities Conference in Bend and had participated in a panel discussion on what communities are doing to reach Latinos. “Communities have varying degrees of Latino population. Cornelius is about 50 percent Latino, and ranks second in the state. Woodburn is first with 58 percent. All on the panel agreed that we want to do more outreach, better understand their needs, and be more welcoming.”

In other topics, Washington County Public Health and Human Services Manager Tricia Mortell explained what health care services are available through the county and handed out a comprehensive resource form, as well as a card encouraging residents to call 503-846-8851 for information about primary care, family planning, STD (sexually transmitted disease) screening and treatment, immunizations and services for teens.

There will be a free community-wide Thanksgiving dinner at the Cornelius Elementary School on Nov 21, from 4-7 p.m.

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