<<Multiple regional FBI offices, including the one in Portland, have begun offering a $25,000 reward for information as part of a nationwide investigation into series of arson and vandalism incidents at reproductive health care centers last year.
Three of the 10 incidents were in Oregon. The other seven targeted facilities were in Colorado, California, Washington, Tennessee, North Carolina, New York and Wisconsin, according to a National FBI news release. The incidents all occurred between March and July 2022, with a majority in June.
The first Oregon incident was at the Oregon Right to Life building in Keizer, according to a news release from the Portland FBI office. On the night of May 8, police received reports of someone throwing multiple Molotov cocktails at the building. Newly released security video from the incident shows someone pulling items from the trunk of a white sedan, possibly a 2017 or 2018 Hyundai Elantra. After an explosion a person is seen running back to the car and taking off.>>
<<The next was on June 10 at the Gresham Pregnancy Resource Center. Police responded to an alarm in the early morning hours and found a fire inside the building. Investigators believe it was ignited by Molotov cocktails thrown through a kitchen window. The flames were contained to one room, Gresham Fire told KGW at the time, and damage to the building was moderate but likely repairable.
The third incident was an arson and vandalism attack at the front entrance to the Mother and Child Education Center in Portland between July 4 and July 6, the FBI said. The phrases “IF ABORTION AINT SAFE NEITHER RU JR” and “JANES RVVGG” were spray painted on the building.>>
<<Most of the targeted buildings appear to have been crisis pregnancy centers or similar operations that typically seek to dissuade women from seeking abortions, although an FBI news release said the California incident targeted a building used by Planned Parenthood.>>
<<The Portland Police Bureau announced today that additional hires had brought the force to 800 sworn officers—and that 102 of them are currently trainees.
The bureau’s aggressive efforts to rebuild its depleted officer ranks has been impeded by a lack of available training facilities, which has slowed an already slow process. It takes 18 months for new hires to complete their training, which includes both 16 weeks at Basic Police Academy in Salem and 12 weeks at PPB’s own Advanced Academy.
It can take up to five months for trainees to even enter basic training, says Police Chief Chuck Lovell. “We’re warehousing them in the meantime,” he tells WW.
In the meantime, new recruits are assigned menial roles in the bureau, from sorting records to distributing equipment.
The Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training has run basic training for all law enforcement in Oregon out of Salem since building a new facility there in 2007. It typically runs 16 classes every two years.
In response to a “state hiring bubble,” it’s added four more, says DPSST acting directory Brian Henson. PPB has sent three officers down to Salem to help the state staff it. But it’s now at capacity, and Henson says it would be impossible to add more classes.
Lovell has suggested the state open up a regional training facility near Portland. But Henson says that’s an unlikely solution in the near term.
“It’s a huge logistical task that takes so much time to do,” he says. “We all want the same thing: We want officers trained as quickly and professionally as possible so they can get back to the communities that they were hired to serve,” he adds.
The bureau also announced the promotion of Assistant Chief Art Nakamura to lead the bureau’s Investigations Branch. He replaces Jami Resch, the city’s former police chief who relinquished the position to Lovell amid the George Floyd protests after only six months in the job. Her next gig: deputy chief of the Springfield Police Department.>>
<<Measure 110, which decriminalized the possession of small amounts of drugs like cocaine, heroine, and meth, was approved by 58 percent of Oregon voters in November 2020. In addition to lowering the penalty for possession from a crime to a fine, the measure also directed over $100 million in annual cannabis tax revenue to expand substance use treatment services in the state. Oregon has the second highest rate of substance use disorder in the nation and ranks 50th for access to treatment. As of 2023, Measure 110 has helped fund over 200 service providers in the state, 41 of which are in Multnomah County.
The rollout of the first-of-its-kind program has been plagued with delays, leading to negative public perception of the measure’s success.
The Oregon Legislature required the Secretary of State to perform three audits of Measure 110, starting with a real-time audit of the measure’s implementation. During a press conference, the audit team gave the state’s implementation of the program a C or D letter grade, while also noting that the overall lack of performance data made the program difficult to evaluate at all.
Through conversations with OHA, the program’s oversight council, and treatment providers funded through the program, auditors found that delays in Measure 110’s implementation could be attributed to an unrealistic timeline laid out by the measure itself, in addition to a lack of clear guidelines from OHA. To implement the program, OHA was directed by the measure to create an Oversight and Accountability Council (OAC) which would be responsible for developing the rules for how funding would be distributed, creating criteria for evaluating grant applicants, and evaluating the applicants themselves.
Measure 110 and subsequent direction from the Oregon Legislature gave the council four months to develop the rules of the program and ten months for the Behavioral Health Resource Networks—treatment providers who receive grant funding and collaborate to provide substance use services for free—to be operational. Auditors determined the timeline was too short to create and implement a complex, first-of-its-kind program. In reality, it took the oversight council seven months to develop the rules and 18 months to finalize all funding agreements for providers throughout the state.
The delays were further exacerbated by OHA highly prioritizing the oversight council’s independence, leaving the all-volunteer council to develop rules for an ambitious, never-been-done-before program with little guidance.
“OHA adopted a strategic position of interpreting M110 in a manner to not compromise or give the appearance of compromising the independence of the OAC’s decision-making authority,” the audit reads, “However, most OAC members lacked experience in designing, evaluating, and administrating a governmental grant application process.”
The lack of experience and OHA’s initial hands-off approach led to a strained relationship amongst the council and state agency, council members told auditors. From February to April 2022, the council canceled 19 meetings due to disagreements on the grant evaluation process.
Council members also felt unsupported during the initial grant evaluation process in the beginning of 2022. Over 300 organizations applied for grant funding, leaving some members of the volunteer council to spend up to 40 hours per week evaluating and scoring applicants.
Eventually, OHA temporarily reassigned 100 staff members to help evaluate the grant applications in spring 2022.
When grant funding finally started flowing, auditors determined that OHA didn’t require or collect enough data about the grant usage in order to measure the impact of the funding.
Funding from Measure 110 was first distributed to organizations in the form of Access to Care grants—smaller grants that were used to start expanding treatment options as the Behavioral Health Resource Network funding was delayed. While the program doled out $33 million to expand access to substance use disorder treatment services through the initial grants, auditors found that OHA could not provide data on how the grant funding was spent or how the grants improved Oregonian’s access to relevant services.
Data for the Behavior Health Resource Network participants is also lacking. Because some of the grant recipients are new or small organizations, OHA said it didn’t want to bog down the organizations with complex data reporting processes. However, auditors note that the inconsistent or lacking data will make it “impossible to effectively measure the outcomes and effectiveness of M110.”
Additionally, auditors are concerned that a lack of consistent performance metrics for pre-existing substance use treatment services across the state has obscured the reality of Oregonians’ access to services prior to the implementation of Measure 110. That lack of data may also make it more challenging to evaluate Measure 110’s effectiveness at increasing access to substance use disorder services.
To address the data issues, auditors recommended OHA identify the barriers that prevent detailed metrics from being recorded and create a plan to address those barriers. In response to the audit findings, OHA interim director James Schroeder agreed with the recommendation, noting that the health authority has already developed a new data collection work plan that will better compile aggregate data submitted by all of the service providers.
During a press conference Thursday, auditor Ian Green said the Secretary of State’s office has concerns that the aggregate data OHA plans to collect will still not provide enough specific information to properly evaluate the impact of the program.
The audit also recommended OHA publish a plan no later than September 2023 on how the Measure 110 program integrates into Oregon’s behavioral health system to address the state’s currently fragmented approach. The Secretary of State’s office also called on OHA to document procedures for the program and provide training for grant applicants and evaluators, as well as recommended the oversight council to collaborate with housing stakeholders and the Department of Corrections to address the intersections of housing, incarceration, and substance use disorder.
Schroeder agreed with all of the auditors’ recommendations and committed to addressing them by December 31, 2024.
“There’s been some narratives that [Measure 110] has been a failure,” said Secretary of State Audits Director Kip Memmott Thursday. “From an audit perspective and a performance measurement perspective, we haven’t got there yet. The key of this real-time audit is really showing how we got off to a rough start.”>>
<<Setbacks and delays hindered the rollout of Measure 110, which Oregon voters approved in 2020 to decriminalize drug possession for personal use and increase funding for treatment services.
That’s the message from Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, who released an audit Thursday of the $150-million-per-year initiative funded mostly with cannabis tax revenue. It arrived against a stark backdrop: Oregon has the second highest rate of substance use disorder in the United States and is 50th in the nation for treatment access, Fagan noted, citing 2020 figures from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Among the findings: The state’s health authority inadequately supported the volunteer council convened to distribute grants to providers in all 36 Oregon counties; council members lacked expertise, which slowed funding approval; and the state and service providers inconsistently collected data, making it difficult to track the measure’s effectiveness.
That sparse data collection left auditors unsure of how grant recipients spent $33 million — or how the money improved people’s lives.
Fagan, who called Measure 110 “a matter of life and death,” experienced her mother struggle with addiction. Now her brother is undergoing treatment. “Oregonians passed this with the expectation that people would get better – that they would have access to treatment,” Fagan said. “Those services need to be there.”>>
<<While council members are required to have experience in substance use recovery services, auditors found they generally lack experience in carrying out their primary responsibility: overseeing and awarding government grants. And the Oregon Health Authority, which faced high staff turnover and unclear expectations about who was responsible for what, failed to provide the council with the help it needed, the audit states. Council members – many of whom have full-time jobs – told auditors they spend as many as 40 hours per week completing evaluations and attending council meetings. Their work has also been delayed by “unclear, inefficient, and difficult to use” grant evaluation rubrics.>>
<<One council member reported spending over 100 hours on grant evaluations, only to have the work returned and marked “incomplete” by reviewers with the Oregon Health Authority. Two members removed themselves from the evaluation committee out of frustration, and 19 meetings were canceled between February and April 2022.>>
<<To resolve these issues, auditors said the Oregon Health Authority – not the council – needs to shoulder more of the administrative work, including reviewing grant applications and providing financial analyses.
Council members also need more training from the health authority on how to carry out their work. But both entities need to collaborate on a better system for evaluating grants that can be rolled out in the future, the audit said.>>
<<Gaps in collecting, reporting and analyzing data made it difficult for auditors to gauge Measure 110′s effectiveness.
Auditors found the Oregon Health Authority awarded $33 million in grants during the initial implementation of Measure 110, but collected almost no data showing how the funds were spent or how they improved access to substance use treatment and services.
Health authority officials said many of the providers funded under Measure 110 are new to the state health care system and can’t handle conducting rigorous data collection. The nature of some treatment services also makes data collection difficult. For example, a provider may offer needle exchanges but struggle to get demographic data from someone workers encounter on the street.
But until consistent data is captured, auditors say it will be difficult for policy makers and the public to tell whether Measure 110 is working, or to suggest improvements to the program.>>
<<It took longer than expected, but every county and tribal area in Oregon now has at least one Behavioral Health Resource Network, an organization that provides free services through grants approved by the Oversight and Accountability Council. Services include substance use disorder screening, case management, low-barrier treatment, peer mentoring and housing.>>
<<The City of Portland’s Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program has launched a new website that will allow Portlanders to see how crews are responding to reported homeless campsites.
The dashboard launched on Wednesday and gives the public the ability to see in detail how reports are being handled. This is what happens after someone calls 311 or reports a camp online. Within three to four days, a team of two will be sent out to the location where a camp was reported.
Impact reduction staff are in regular contact with law enforcement.
The public can then see what the campsite is rated on the dashboard with a description of what was found and photos. The camp’s location on the map will show when it was posted to be cleaned up and the day it was cleaned.>>
<<A new dashboard, launched by the City of Portland’s Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program, shows residents what Portland is doing to clean up the several homeless campsites that have been reported in the area.>>
<<As of Thursday, Jan. 19, the dashboard reveals that there have been 107,000 campsite reports since the city started collecting data in July 2022. About 73,000 of those were duplicate reports, which leaves 34,000 reports that are “queued for assessment.”
The dashboard also shows that crews had collected 6.5 million pounds of garbage from July 2022 to Wednesday, Jan. 11. Their average assessment response time has been 3.5 business days.>>
<<Additional settings on the dashboard allow viewers to look at specific neighborhoods, clean and removal sites, risk assessments and more.
Before and after photos of some cleaned sites are available as well.>>
<<In the latest chapter of a book that doesn’t seem to have a satisfying resolution, business and community leaders are once again coming together to say they are tired of feeling unsafe in Portland.
Dozens of people have said the theft, vandalism and drug use are pushing them to their breaking point and part of this discontent is a perception the city isn’t doing enough.
KOIN 6 has reported in the past couple of weeks about rising burglaries in the city.
Thursday, we heard people tell stories of break-ins, but also being threatened with weapons outside of their own businesses and sometimes even their homes.
The frustration comes from the fact that these people know where the problems are, if not at their business, they are at camps of tents or cars where they see drug deals and drug use occur frequently.
“This is cruelty in the name of compassion, this is an intolerable situation created out of the name of tolerance,” said Drew Layda, a Portland resident.
“I lived here most of my life, I’ve never seen things so bad,” said Christy, a Woodstock business owner. “I’ve owned this business for 22 years, I want to stay in business, I want our community back, I want the whole city back.”
In response to this press conference, Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office pointed to the hiring of 70 PPB officers, increasing funding for business repair grants, and expanding tree lighting across the city to deter crime. The Office also highlights the creation of a Behavioral Health Emergency Coordination Network with the county and says assessments of cleanups of campsites. The city’s data shows, through surveys with outreach workers of 800 homeless individuals, 80 percent refuse a shelter when offered, but 7 out of 10 would accept a location to camp outside with access to services.>>
<< More Portlanders are speaking out over public safety and what they say is a poor response from local officials in confronting homelessness.
On Thursday, dozens of concerned business owners and citizens gathered in Southeast Portland at the store, Urbanite, to share their stories dealing with crime and vandalism in the city, and demanding more action from local leaders.
Signs saying ‘Help Don’t Enable,’ ‘Prosecute Criminals’ and ‘Do Better, Portland’ were front and center at the podium where business owners and residents shared story after story of being faced with crime and rampant drug use on city streets. Some business owners even said they are worried about the future of their businesses because of frequent vandalism and threats.
Thursday’s gathering was organized by Angela Todd who runs @PDX.Real, a social media account rallying thousands of Portlanders around public safety. She told the crowd now is the time to take action in order to improve livability in the Rose City.
“This is a self-rescue,” Todd told the crowd. “Unless you help us rescue you, and the rest of the community, nothing is going to change.”
Also speaking at Thursday’s event was Michael Albino, the owner of Legacy Modern Home Furnishings in Southeast Portland. Albino said he wanted to speak out to finally make his voice heard after dealing with rampant vandalism and threats from people camping near his store.
After Thursday’s event, Albino recounted a close call he had with someone about a year ago who refused to move their campsite from outside legacy modern.
“He threatened me and my employees with a knife and we had to lock the doors,” said Albino. “That’s one instance. In our previous location, someone smashed our side door with a hammer. I had to get that replaced and have an expense around that.”
Albino says, if city officials don’t bring the urgency needed to meet this moment of crisis in Portland, he is not sure how businesses like his will last.
“I’m a destination business, I’m not in a walking neighborhood,” he said. “I rely on people choosing to come here, and if I’m not getting the people choosing to come here then I can’t be in business.”
But city officials say they are hearing the concerns. Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office has recently been planning a ‘90-Day Reset’ in regards to public safety for the Central Eastside Industrial District where Albino’s business is. The mayor’s office says those plans will be unveiled next week>>