Friday, April 5, 2013

City Police are Demoralized

Speech to the Grants Pass City Council, 9/5/12.  
Honorable Councilors, Mayor, and Manager:
          I went to Baker Park to see if that trash pit had been cleaned at all since I complained two weeks ago.  It was still a trash pit.  I watched a woman come and clean the bathrooms and leave.  Two weeks ago, I watched 4 men in an Aspire truck empty two trash cans.  Apparently, that’s all the city does in that park, while the trash and weeds pile up in and around it. 

                                Baker Park, litter in the parking lot
          A police officer rode in on his motorcycle.  I had to ask him if he was there in response to the litter compliant I’d called in.  Of course not, but he said that he had complained numerous times about the trash himself.  He said that he’d talked every year to Parks about thinning out the weeds so police could see people camping.  He was down there to see who he could cite for disorderly conduct offenses.  We had a nice chat, commiserating about the mess.

                                       Baker Park, weeds

          I call this man a police officer for good reason; he is one who actually tries to keep public order, for which he is widely hated among the disorderly poor.  Unfortunately, he is not allowed to cite richer people or organizations for letting their property become disorderly, like Baker Park. 
That power was taken away under Manager David Frasher after police and firemen were combined and called Public Safety, when Code Enforcement was created and later called Community Service Officers, or CSOs.  Public Safety officers are not allowed to notice and cite weeds and litter, and even CSOs work only by citizen or supervisor complaint.  A year or so ago, when I tried to get a passing CSO to look at a problem, he said that I had to call it in, and then he would be told to look at it.
With supervisors who pick and choose what will be looked at and who do their best to discourage citizen complaints, powerful landowners have become safe from citation for allowing their properties to become disorderly nuisances.  A few properties get abated, but one can complain about others repeatedly and nothing is done.
          And now, as he pointed out, he can cite, but the disorderly poor mostly don’t care, because we have no jail space for disorderly conduct or failures to appear for it.  He seemed to be thoroughly demoralized, as others must be also.  They signed up to police, not just enforce state laws.  Please eliminate the CSO department and ask all of your officers to read our nuisance code and enforce it on sight.  

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