The collaboration’s eventual response (SARA) adhered closely to these ground rules and was conducted over a period of nine months. Provided in the following is a summary of the changes that were made as part of this effort.
The collaboration facilitated several design changes in and around the Albina— Killingsworth intersection that sought to deter criminal activity. First, the public phone booth was removed, and the wall that previously served as a hangout was redesigned to discourage loitering and improve natural surveillance.
Second, nearby bus kiosks were redesigned to deter criminal behavior. This included changes to the types of seating available and rotating the kiosks to face the street. These modifications resulted in better natural surveillance and made it easier for local patrol officers to observe and respond to illegal transactions.
Third, the collaboration worked with the area schools to improve physical security and ensure that entrances and exits were better controlled.2 This helped improve the security of the schools and prevent truancy in the secondary schools. An example of this strategy was closing off the side doors to one of the area high schools.
Fourth, the collaboration partnered with the Portland Development Commission to address miscellaneous CPTED issues with local businesses. Low-interest loans were provided to improve lighting, deter graffiti by planting “green walls,” and make physical improvements, such as adding fencing and/or gates.
Officers worked with the OLCC and local business owners to develop abatement agreements preventing the sales of certain types of fortified wines and malt liquors popular with street drinkers due to their low price and relatively high alcohol content. These agreements helped reduce street drinking, a chronic problem and community concern.
This also helped reduce the general sense of disorder that plagued the neighborhood. It was hoped that improvement to the area would increase business traffic and help mitigate the financial impact caused by the reduced sales of these kinds of products. This appeared to be the case as the area started to become a destination for shopping, dining, and other activities.
Steps were taken to change the social norms in the target area, promote legitimacy of the collaboration, and address the needs of at-risk youth. For example, the police and Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office partnered with 11:45, a local religious group. They mentored youth and walked the intersection to discourage substance use.
Surveillance and guardianship
Efforts were taken to increase the perceived risk to would-be offenders by increasing formal surveillance and guardianship in the target area. To accomplish this the police worked with a number of partners in taking the following measures:
- • Portland Community College (PCC) Security provided a daily presence in the area. They communicated with police officers on emerging issues and provided a uniformed presence when police officers were unavailable. PCC also provided video surveillance cameras that allowed police officers to develop probable cause for arrests. This was essential as the neighborhood wanted to avoid the use of more arbitrary methods, such as high levels of police stops.
- • Portland Public Schools (PPS) Security also worked closely with police. With two high schools in the area and a large number of youth, PPS security was able to provide additional guardianship, especially where the students in the area were concerned.
- • Police enhanced foot patrols in the area, drawing on both regular patrol officers and officers specially assigned to Sergeant Freidman’s team.
- • Police parked unoccupied police cars (“ghost cars”) in a parking spot that had been designated for police cars as part of the project. The use of video surveillance prevented random vandalism to the cars. In combination with video surveillance, the presence of the cars made it difficult for potential offenders to know when they were being observed.
These tactics provided additional guardianship and helped curtail unwanted behaviors.
Finally, the police significantly increased enforcement in the target area for the first four months of 2012. The number of arrests in those months rose from 32 in 2011 to 205 in 2012, more than a sixfold increase. The nature of the arrests was consistent with issues of concern identified by the collaboration. More than one-half were for alcohol-related offenses, and roughly one-quarter were for drug-related crimes. The bulk of the remaining arrests were for outstanding warrants, theft, assault, and weapon-related offenses. Also consistent with the collaboration’s ground rules, the intensive-enforcement campaign was largely short term (see Figure 5.1).
FIGURE 5.1 Arrests within 500 feet of NE Albina Avenue and NE Killingsworth Street
The assessment (SARA) of the collaboration’s efforts was focused on both traditional measures of crime and disorder, such as criminal offenses and calls for service, and on nontraditional measures, such as complaints and whether force was used by police when making arrests. This reflected the collaboration’s concern with police tactics.
Criminal offenses generally considered to be serious—murder, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson reported as occurring within 500 feet of the intersection of N. Albina Ave and N. Killingsworth St. between January and July 20123 decreased 16.1% compared with 2011; and decreased 27.4% compared with a five-year average (2007 to 2011). In contrast, citywide crimes of these same types were up 9% at the time of this evaluation.
Consistent with other indicators there was a marked reduction in calls for service over the course of the collaboration. While initially high due to increased police presence, the number had fallen to about one-third of the historic average by July. Calls for service decreased 8.8% compared with 2011, decreased 15.3% compared with the five-year average (2007 to 2011), and decreased to 22 in July (compared with 58 calls in 2011 and 66 calls being the five-year average).
Use of force
The use of force by the police was very rare before, during, and after the collaboration’s efforts. Between 2008 (when the PPB adopted the use-of-force reporting policy in effect at the time of the collaboration’s efforts) until 2012, there were 11 incidents where force was used in the targeted area. This makes drawing conclusions about the collaboration’s impact on officers’ behavior difficult to assess. With that limitation in mind, there was a reduction in the percentage of arrests involving force4 (see Figure 5.2).
There were no citizen complaints generated during the months of January to July. As with the use of force, citizen complaints are very rare. Their absence was important but also not abnormal. The important point was that efforts did not seem to increase complaints.
Displacement of crime did not appear to be an issue. Crime and calls for service were examined for an area within 500 feet of the intersection, and a separate analysis examined crime and calls for service out to one-quarter of a mile. The benefits of the intervention appeared to dissipate with distance but there was a noticeable reduction in calls for service (15%) out to one-quarter of a mile. This suggests there may have been some diffusion of benefits.
FIGURE 5.2 Percentage of arrests involving use of force
Finally, the benefits remained two years later. As of 2013, calls for service near the intersection were down 65%, while citywide, they had increased by 4.3%. Violent crime was down 50%, compared with a citywide reduction of 1%. Overall, reported crime in the targeted area was down by just over 1%. While this overall reduction was not substantial, for the most part, violent crime appeared to have been replaced with property crimes, and calls for service fell dramatically. The area had been transformed from a place to be avoided to a destination for students and residents to socialize and shop.