Lents neighbors hear from Portland ‘Community Safety’ officials

What happened to our ‘Crime Prevention’ programs? Find out, and hear what the leader of the Portland Community Safety Program has to say about it …

Neighbors gather for another informative Lents Neighborhood Livability Association meeting.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

About a dozen neighbors came out Thursday evening, January 12th, to learn more about the direction of Portland’s Community Safety Program. That was a highlight of the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association (LNLA) monthly meeting.

After brief announcements about upcoming LNLA activities, the announced program began.

It led off with Portland’s “Safe Blocks Program” Coordinator, Mary Thompkins, letting attendees know that, although the Bureaus under which the program operates have changed – and that it has also been renamed! – the “Crime Prevention Program” still exists.

“Safe Blocks Program” Coordinator Mary Thompkins and staffer Jacob Brostoff tell about their program.

“Those who have lived here for a while will remember that the ‘Crime Prevention Program’ was under the auspices of the ‘Office of Neighborhood Involvement’,” Thompkins reminded. “Since then, the office’s name was changed to the Office of Community & Civic Life.

“Then our program was transferred from there to the Office of Management & Finance, Community Safety Division – and then, finally, it was moved to the Community Safety Investment Team.

“So, we in this program have been through quite a number of transitions,” she reflected.

“But, we continue on, with the same people doing the same work, but under different names.

Many of the original “Crime Prevention Program” services are still available, says “Safe Blocks Program” Coordinator Mary Thompkins.

“Although it’s now called the Safe Blocks Program, it’s basically the same philosophy and same services.  We’re meeting with neighbors, and putting neighbors together to make people safer in their own neighborhood That includes providing ‘Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design’ security assessments,” Thompkins assured.

To learn more, or request service from the Safe Blocks Program, see their official webpage: CLICK HERE. Or, call (503) 823-4064 to be connected with a Safe Blocks Program coordinator who serves your neighborhood.

Community Safety Transition Director speaks

Mike Myers, Community Safety Transition Director, begins his talk to the LNLA.

Following Mary Thompkins was the evening’s featured speaker – Portland Community Safety Transition Director Mike Myers.

Myers was hired by then-Commissioner Dan Saltzman to be Portland Fire Chief in 2016; later he become the city’s Emergency Management director, before being named Community Safety Transition Director of the Community Safety Division Office in 2021.

Reducing redundancy among Portland’s public safety offices is one of the facets of his position, says Myers.

“There’s a lot of redundancy, and a lot of waste, and we should clean this up,” Myers remarked, about the general nature of his job. “In February 2021, the Portland City Council decided to have a Community Safety Director — an individual, to do this work – and I was hired on April 2021.”

His “work plan” includes:

Consolidating – all public safety divisions’ payroll, timecards, budgeting, public communications offices – “all under one roof” – thus managing $650 million

Right responder to the right call – whether it be police, fire, medical, or Portland Street Response, to create a system where the appropriate responder is dispatched depending on the type and urgency of the call

Build out the response system – “developing equitable and accountable emergency response innovations, and a holistic plan to modernize community safety”.

Myers went on to detail a multi-layered organizational chart. It includes:

  • Coordination Team
  • Focused Intervention Group
  • Focused Intervention Team Community Oversight Group
  • Focused Investment Group
  • Focused Impact Reduction Group


On a “Heat Map”, showing shooting locations, Mike Myers points out particular areas in outer east Portland.

Within the Focused Investment Group, there is the Community Safety Division’s $2.4 million Safer Summer PDX initiative, which “focuses investments” – in the form of “Community Based Grants” made for programs:

  • To persuade those “at highest risk of shooting” not to shoot
  • To involve at-risk youth in the city’s highest-impact areas in pro-social activities
  • To make “place-based investments” in the most-affected neighborhoods, to address environmental factors conducive to gun violence


Four Community Based Grant Recipients at work in outer East Portland include:

Native American Youth Association
Immigrant Refugee Community Organization
Latino Network
Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center


See Myers’ entire, highly-detailed presentation at the LNLA meeting – online, via YouTube:

A after the meeting, we emailed Mr. Myers asking, since the Summer of 2022 ended in mid September, and his Division has now had time to analyze the outcomes of the Safer Summer PDX program, would he share with the public the specific “performance metrics” for this program?

We also asked him for specific outcomes from the four grant recipients: The Native American Youth Association, the Immigrant Refugee Community Organization, the Latino Network, and the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center grant programs.

As of this writing, we’ve not received a response. When it arrived, we’ll update this article.

For more information about the Lents Neighborhood Livability Associaton, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2023 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™





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