New ‘Cop Shop’ in Centennial gets thumbs-up from police commissioner

We’ve told you how businesspeople and neighbors worked to create a Community Policing office in the Parkrose area. Now, see what – and why – Centennial neighbors have done the same in far-south outer East Portland …

Showing off the new Meadowlands Community Policing Office in the Centennial neighborhood on May 22 are Portland Police Bureau Sergeant Jeff Helfrich, Jennifer Lawrence with Elders in Action, Officer Greg Baldwin, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, and Leslie Foren with Elders in Action.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
This story actually started last year when folks from the Centennial Community Association and the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) decided to enhance police presence by providing a Community Policing Office in far-south outer East Portland, on SE Powell Blvd near 172nd Avenue.

“Our neighborhood extends as far east as one can go without being in Gresham,” said Centennial Community Association chair Tom Lewis. “To those of us who live here, there really isn’t much of a line between Portland and Gresham. We appreciate that the Portland Police Bureau and Gresham Police work together. We wanted to help be part of that effort.”

The police commissioner, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, takes a look at some of the technology installed at the office that Sergeant Jeff Helfrich is demonstrating.

A cop with a plan
The person credited with spearheading the effort is PPB Sergeant Jeff Helfrich. “I spoke with commercial real estate people from Norris & Stevens about a year and a half ago, regarding the site. I thought we would get this done in a couple of months; it didn’t work out like that.”

Helfrich told us that he went “knocking on doors” around the area, asking for help to turn an empty storefront in the Meadowlands Shopping Center into a contact office. “The businesses have been so generous. They’ve provided us with beautiful countertops and custom cabinetry in both in the front and back areas. I want to say thank you so very much. We want to recognize you for your dedication and as for your help.”

Along with community businesses and neighbors, Helfrich had high praise for PPB East Precinct Officer Greg Baldwin. “His experience as being building contractor in a ‘former life’ really helped me get this project off the ground.”

PPB East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs presents awards to Tricia Story, manager of Meadowland Bi-Mart store, for donating to the project, and to Don Gunstone, a partner in Legend Custom Woodworking, who provided countertops and custom cabinets as project organizer, Sergeant Jeff Helfrich, looks on.

Invites in all law agency officers
One of the benefits of the office, Helfrich said, is that deputies from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and members of the Gresham Police force are welcome to make use of the facility.

“As we start talking together and really sharing information,” Helfrich noted, “that’s going to help develop real, interagency partnerships along the city boundary line that will help reduce crime, and the fear of crime. Criminals don’t care about jurisdictions. With patrol cars rolling in and out of there, it shows criminals that we’re concerned about crime, and won’t put up with their bad behavior, no matter where it is committed.”

PPB East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs was quick to commend Helfrich on his dogged effort to see the project through. “He worked his way through the red tape, and pulled this off successfully. We’re also thankful for the support we’ve had from members of the Centennial Community Association.”

Commissioner Saltzman tours office
On May 22, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman visited the new Meadowlands Police Contact Office. “It looks great. I’m very impressed with the energy with which this came together,r and the cooperation between the Portland Police Bureau and area businesses to establish these offices.”

Saltzman noted that the partnership created an office that is functional, and well located.

“We also appreciate that the Elders in Action organization’s volunteers have stepped up to staff these offices,” Saltzman commented. “Now, people here in this area, can know that there is a place they can go and get help for a public safety issue. This epitomizes a community policing at its finest. With the businesses that have contributed and helped furnish and paint the offices.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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