City to Parkrose: Welcome to North Portland

Find out why the citizens of Argay Terrace and Parkrose say they’re dismayed that their neighborhoods are being shuffled into to newly-created North Precinct …

Portland Police Bureau Chief Rosie Sizer says that moving precinct boundary lines will probably not please some neighbors.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Last month, we brought you the story about how the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) was planning to collapse the current five precincts down to three. (CLICK HERE to read that article).

Most neighbors in outer East Portland didn’t take notice; the map clearly showed that all 13 neighborhoods in the East Portland Neighborhood Organization (EPNO) coalition – including Parkrose, Argay Terrace and Wilkes – would continue to be served from East Precinct.

However, after wrangling by some non-EPNO neighbors, such as those who live in Madison South, to stay in East Precinct, the boundary lines changed.

The TOP map, from released in February, shows Parkrose, Argay Terrace and Wilkes are all in East Precinct’s beige-colored boundary. The BOTTOM map – the current precinct configuration – now in yellow, indicates these three neighborhoods, will be patrolled by officers reporting to North Precinct.

Twice the distance from the precinct
Outer East Portland neighbors say they understand that police officers, unlike firefighters, patrol an assigned district – a subdivision of a precinct – and that they don’t sit around waiting for calls at the precinct office.

Yet, there is concern that the North Precinct Commander, in his office at 449 NE Emerson Street, will be commanding officers in communities spanning from St. Johns, east to the City of Gresham border.

Specifically, the distance from North Precinct to Bob Brown Tires on NE Sandy Blvd. is 7.05 miles, with an estimated travel time of 19 minutes. East Precinct’s headquarters is a mere 3.67 miles away from Brown’s store, an 11-minute trip.

Parkrose Business Association president, Wayne Stoll, says he’s dismayed to learn their area is scheduled to be shifted to North Precinct, after many of its members supplied labor, materials, and funds to create a modern, welcoming police contact station on NE Sandy Boulevard.

Parkrose businesses express concern
At their March 19 meeting, Parkrose Business Association President Wayne Stoll said the proposal to shift the precinct boundary lines was troubling.

Stoll read a letter to the City, and asked members to consider signing their names to it. The letter read:

Dear Mayor Sam Adams:
We are writing you today concerning the proposed consolidation of police precincts in the City of Portland.

For a long time, we in the Parkrose area felt neglected and under-patrolled by the Portland Police Bureau. During the last five years, we have seen that trend improve through the hard work of the fine officers, command staff, and folks at East Precinct.

Recently, a Community Policing Office opened on Sandy Boulevard, in the heart of Parkrose.  This happened due to the hard work of Commander Mike Krebs, Sergeant John Anderson, and Officer Greg Baldwin. East Portland citizens Joe Rossi, Rex Hollingsworth, and many other hard-working citizens volunteered for the project because they were concerned with livability in the Parkrose area.

Now, with a proposed realignment of the police precincts, this private-public partnership, successfully developed over many years, will be ripped apart if Parkrose becomes part of the new Northeast Precinct.

Parkrose, as a whole, wants to stay within the boundaries of East Precinct, and we ask your help in keeping us there. Please do not move us backward in time when people asked us, “Is Parkrose in the City of Portland?”

Earlier this year, Argay Neighborhood Association chair Valerie Curry presented PPB Chief Rosie Sizer with a mug their group had made for all officers and staff members at East Precinct.

Argay neighbors protest move
Earlier this year, the neighbors of Argay Terrace showed their appreciation for all of the officers and staff members at PPB East Precinct by presenting them deluxe, heavy-duty coffee mugs, emblazoned with their community association’s seal. (Read about it: CLICK HERE.)

Argay Neighborhood Association Chair Valerie Curry said their citizens were not at all pleased by being shifted into the new North Precinct.

“We are strongly urging that Argay remain in East Precinct,” Curry told us. “We’re concerned that our businesses and residents would not have the same response time from patrolling police if we were shifted to Northeast Precinct – located at approximately Killingsworth & MLK Boulevard.”

From a neighborhood-association perspective, Curry added, traveling to meetings at East Precinct takes less than 10 minutes. “This is important, because our 13 coalition neighborhoods share similar problems that we bring to Commander Crebs and his fine staff at Citizens Advisory Committee meetings.”

Curry said the three northern outer East Portland neighborhoods would be isolated – split off from the southern outer East Portland communities. “Realistically, what do our problems and needs have to do with communities such as Alberta and St. Johns?”

Speaking as a private citizen, Curry said she’s found the Portland Police officers and staff to be dedicated and resourceful. “But even this competent force can’t work magic, with the new North Precinct’s patrol area strung across many miles. I have little hope that Argay – with its considerable problems along NE Sandy Boulevard – could get quick police response to our calls for help.”

Chief Sizer comments, “I don’t think we’re going to be able to develop a map that is going to make everyone happy.”

Sizer responds to neighbors
On April 2, we had the opportunity to ask PPB Chief Sizer for her response to the concern expressed by these neighbors and business people.

“Our desire is to balance the workload between the precincts,” Sizer told us. “We have [created] over a dozen maps and plans to develop decent boundaries and a balanced workload.

“Part of the recommendation around that boundary came from our officers; about how they would get [help from other officers to provide] cover on calls. This was not a bureaucratic decision about where to draw the boundary line. It was about officers saying what was going to work, for them, in terms of getting help when they need it on the street.

“My strong feeling is that those officers, with whom the community has developed strong relationships – they’re still going to be working that area. I think that’s the most important thing.”

We asked Sizer to respond to the concerns expressed by northern outer East Portland folks.

“I think I just answered the question,” Sizer replied. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to develop a map that is going to make everyone happy. We do want to make it so that every community member is an equal chance to have good [police] service. We want to make sure officers can respond to calls in ways that they feel are safe.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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