Office of Mayor Tom Potter City of Portland
Taking Back Portland’s Neighborhoods: Fighting Prostitution On 82nd Ave. & Sandy Blvd. Mayor Tom Potter, joined by Chief Rosie Sizer, Commander Mike Crebs and neighborhood activists from the Montavilla and Madison South communities, on Thursday announced a series of actions to City is taking to fight back against increased prostitution along 82nd Avenue and Sandy Boulevard. Here are the Mayor remarks:
We are here today to join with our neighbors in talking about how we are going to take back these streets from the prostitutes, pimps and their customers who have made 82nd Avenue and Sandy Boulevard an intolerable environment for our children, our businesses and our community.
>>Comments/ Rebuttal from Montavilla In Action in red text – highlighted. Contact: Fax: Email: Blog/ website:
Brian Wong Ph: 971.221.4718 Liz Ph: 971.998. 5667 503.258.0417 MontavillaInAction@gmail.com http://www.MontavillaInAction.blogspot.com
We have seen a more than 300 400(Southeast Community Policing Forum July 23, 2008 stated “the Neighborhood Response Team/NRT reported that calls for police services concerning prostitution along 82nd Ave have quadrupled 400% from this time last year. This number far exceeds the YTD calls for the years 2006 and 2007”) percent increase in vice calls from 2006 to 2007 (we believe the Mayor meant 2007 to 2008 correct?) in our East and Southeast Precincts. More importantly, we have witnessed how parents must clean up the playgrounds and ball fields that are used by prostitutes before they can let their children play. (Another key devastating & new factor is that now neighborhood women & young girls within the vicinity of the Avenue are now targets of johns. Neighborhood womens’ safety has been deeply affected since the PFZ was abandoned last year. One young mother we recently met - who doesn't have the luxury of a car and must walk along 82nd Avenue get her groceries and when doing so with her 3 young children men in cars are propositioning her in front of her kids - just because she is walking along on 82nd Ave. as a lone woman during the day. She said this has never happened to her in previous years, just this summer. She feels like men are now checking her out and they are propositioning her & she is now target. She does not feel safe anymore and this has all happened in the last year. She doesn't want to move out of her apartment nor does she have the money to move or pay another security deposit, but she fears for her safety and for her childrens')
That is not only unsafe, it is intolerable to me, to the people who live in these neighborhoods, to everyone who lives in Portland. I don’t want anyone to think for a moment that these are victimless crimes, and that police resources could be better used elsewhere. Many of these women are abused, raped and robbed by both pimps and johns. Pimps are often drug dealers and gang members. Customers not only expose themselves to the threat of disease, but they expose their families as well.
Where prostitution flourishes, drugs and theft, burglary and assault soon follow. Just last month, a prostitute who had been beaten by her pimp stabbed him to death. A week later, a pimp was shot to death as he fought with another. Yes, after the PFZ was lifted, pimps and prostitutes moved in (this is well documented) to take advantage of the weak laws and enforcement in Portland. Our streets now generate a lot of money for these criminals and we are seeing chronic examples of turf disputes. Our concern is will it take another act of retaliation, where an innocent bystander gets shot for the city to realize what a critical mistake it was to abandon the PFZ less then a year ago. But today, I want our community to know that we are changing what is happening on these streets. Mayor Potter & City Leaders – when you lifted the PFZ last Sept ’07 without ANY research both the Mayor and Mr. Leonard touted that “real solutions” were coming in lieu of the PFZ, well here we are almost 1 year to the date and our neighborhoods are overrun with organized crime. First, since mid-August (so 11 months after the PFZ was abandoned), Chief Sizer has directed the Portland Police Bureau to increase their crack down on both prostitutes and their johns. In 6 antiprostitution missions over 10 days, officers arrested 36 prostitutes, including one minor; 27 johns and 1 pimp. This is more than half as many as were arrested in the previous six months. Is that fact due to the City now recognizes that we have been in a blatant & escalated organized crime turf war along 82nd Ave since the PFZ was lifted last Sept 2007 or is it because it took those fatalities to occurred? We have been calling the Non Emergency number since early Spring of this year and don’t want to be calling that number next Spring. Now, four officers in unmarked cars (so 2 cars total – 2 officers in 1 car each correct?) are patrolling this area seven days a week, dedicated only to vice calls and nothing else. How long are these 2 detail cars budgeted and slated for? Additionally, officers from three precincts will run at least four antiprostitution missions every month. (How expensive is a mission and how often did we do them when the PFZ was in effect?) Commander Mike Crebs, who has been heading this task force, says that the community has been telling him that these new patrols are making a noticeable difference along 82nd Avenue. There is a difference, but we want to know how long this commitment of the extra 2 detail cars is planned for? We are also are aware that the johns frequent chat rooms that discuss this current increase in law enforcement efforts and they too are aware of these efforts and they don’t think it will last. How long is this commitment for and is this slated to be communicated to the general public so we don’t have johns erratically circling our residential streets in future Second, and perhaps more importantly, we are also trying to fundamentally change how our criminal justice system here in Portland deals with this problem. What is the timeline to “fundamentally change” our criminal justice system? This is KEY and we know that it can and WILL take quite awhile – do you have any initial buy in? What is the process and timeline? Why did we not have a
representative from the judicial system at today’s press conference? How long will this process take REALISTICALY? Currently, most prostitutes who are arrested are back on the streets working only hours after they are arrested. This is one key area on how the PFZ did help, it acted as a deterrent to this particular fact. Working with the District Attorney’s Office, we are asking judges to place repeat (what is considered “repeat” = twice or more, need consistent guidelines across all judges for this to be effective – correct?) offenders in Circuit Court rather than the current practice of community court for prostitution-related crimes. If convicted there, they can be placed on probation, which will allow judges to exclude them from certain areas, or require they enter treatment. What is the lag time between arrest and court date for most prostitutes? What is the rate of “no shows” on their court date? Also are we also treating the johns that repeat the same way? We know Commander Crebs has mentioned the low stat on johns that repeat, but based on internet research of other cities, johns do in fact repeat after an initial arrest it’s just that here in Portland we have not been truly focused on arresting and targeting the johns and arresting that larger pool to get & see the patterns. We believe the johns should be treated the same way with Circuit Court when applicable. Do you agree, and are you working on this as well? We are working toward a system (“working toward a system” – what is the projected timeline & next steps?) where officers will have the ability to immediately arrest those prostitutes who enter an area (define “an area” please) in violation of their probation, and put them in jail. (This is based on only “repeat offenders”, so we need that definition clarified of “repeat”= 2 vs. 6 arrests, etc, then first getting them arrested, usually involving stings or missions, correct? Then having them stick around for their court date, which could be a lag time of several months, but in the interim they can easily be back on the street working, during that time until their court date, correct? Third, the City Council will consider (“consider”- so these funds are not fully approved and slated, will the 500K be coming out of the 2008 budget or 2009 budget when will this be decided?) allocating a total of $500,000 to develop treatment options for prostitutes. While there is a popular notion that most prostitutes are dealing with drug abuse issues, research by Commander Crebs in the past few weeks shows the problems are much more wide-ranging, and that drugs play a much smaller part than anticipated. (We the residents have been taking to our neighborhood officers for the past year as arrests are made outside of our houses. We have stressed this fact to you and the City Council via email to not lump the majority of prostitution and prostitutes in the same way you treat drug crimes and addicts. A majority of these poor women are doing it for the economics. In knowing that, like you stated, what professional training and alternatives will be provided to earn them a decent living wage? One recent prostitute that was just moved here from California and was arrested outside of a neighbor’s house said she makes appx. $700 a day and does not have a pimp. This is the reality for many of these women – how is the city addressing this key factor?) Therefore we must develop treatment programs that address sex abuse counseling; housing and childcare needs, and job training as well as drug counseling. (“Develop” what is the schedule on this process, who are they key groups you are working with, is there additional funding in 2009?) This is not coddling offenders, but rather breaking the cycle of dependence between a prostitute and her pimp, and attacking the root cause of the problem by giving them the skills to create a new life away from the streets. (Will all prostitutes have access to these services or only the repeat offenders that are put on probation?
Part of this money (so part of the 500K that is still being “considered”?) will also be used to create a “Service Coordination Team” (so what percentage of the considered 500K will go to the SCT?) similar to the one that has been so successful in Old Town. This team (how many are you suggesting will be in the team and is it full time head count? Will they be new hires? Is this slated for this year, if so when?) of officers will identify the worst offenders and offer them the choice of help or jail time. I want to thank the Portland Police Bureau for designing the Service Coordination Team model, and Commissioner Randy Leonard for being so supportive of it and of bringing a similar team to East Portland (“East Portland” – this crime is affecting primarily SE & NE Portland and all of the neighborhoods bordering 82nd Avenue also falls under South East Precinct. The SE Precinct who have been fundamental in helping the neighbors of Montavilla & Mount Tabor) Fourth, we are working with the Neighborhood Associations to help them solve their own problems (“their own problems” – Mayor Potter how is this blatant increase in crime due to you sunsetting, the PFZ one year ago & allowing it to grow and fester, our “own problem” if that is what you are referring to? As we have previously throughout the summer emailed to you, Mr. Leonard and the rest of City Council that our communities and streets are now the destination for johns, from not only the Portland area but for all of Oregon and the Vancouver, WA areas now as well. Since, which is the very essence of community policing? Our Office of Neighborhood Involvement is working with Neighborhood Associations and the Police to create foot patrols to document crimes. (What other foot patrols is ONI creating? The only one we are aware of is Montavilla Community Patrol that specifically formed this past June in reaction to the PFZ now being gone. It would be great if ONI could spearhead patrol set up and training with Madison South, South Tabor, Park Rose, etc – is this planned?) The Montavilla Community Foot Patrol, for instance, is out several nights a week, actively targeting prostitution areas and contacting businesses along the route. (Please note that all of these working families have to now make time to patrol their streets, due to the blatant crime that has now taken over mainly due to you and the City Leaders abandoning the PFZ. We as residents don’t mind “doing our part” but we have put in many, many hours that are critically now needed this past year, since that vital tool of the PFZ is now gone. Come next summer we don’t want to be, nor should we be patrolling SEVEN nights a week) Local businesses are working with police to share information on criminal activity, and signing trespass agreements with the City which allows the Police to stop suspicious activity after hours. Citizens are creating “court watch” groups that will monitor how prostitution cases are proceeding in court and report back to their neighborhoods. (This is news to us – who is creating “court watch”? Most working families do not have the luxury of taking off of work, arranging childcare & heading downtown and hoping to see if defendants show up for their appearances. Doesn’t this all go back to you working on & getting consistent minimum sentencing?) I believe these efforts are an important beginning (“Beginning?” we were told as a community last September 26, 2007 that the city was going to provide real solutions – that was a year ago and now to hear again we are now beginning…) in helping these communities regain control of their streets, and in addressing these problems at their root causes. Upon hearing the Mayor’s “prostitution talking points” as this file was saved and named by the Mayor’s office, it makes us in Montavilla In Action - push on even harder to the PFZ to be reinstated. We weren’t expecting “talking points” but a fully jntegrated plan, that had defined next steps, timelines and initial buy in from all levels – City Council, Judicial, DAs, probation officers, jail, treatment options, approved
funding for 2008, 200, etc. There are so many “ifs”. The process isn’t defined, budget is not approved, there is a ‘fundamental change’ that needs to happen at the judicial level, these talking points only target prostitutes that are repeat offenders, where is the focus on the demand – the johns? This is unfortunate and disheartening to hear, that one year after the zone was abandoned by our City leaders we are at a bureaucratic beginning to solve a crisis that has reached a critical level (300% increase per the Mayor’s opening paragraph) due to that fact. We plan to still present our Petition to Reinstate the Prostitution Free Zone to City Council, to commemorate with the 1 year anniversary (Sept. 30, 2007) of that negligent mistake. We ask that the PFZ be reinstated in addition to all of the city’s proposed plans. We also stress once again that the City leaders look to Seattle and see how they took our law and PFZ ordinance and made it effective.
Thank you, Montavilla In Action www.MontavillaInAction.blogspot.com MontavillaInAction@gmail.com