Email to Chief Sizer – lack of citations…

I sent the following email to Portland Police Chief Sizer with no response at all.

Hello Chief Sizer,

I’m concerned with the Portland Police’s policies toward illegal fireworks, as well as the lack of desire for officers to cite “small offenses”. I live on the corner of 44th and Clay in Southeast Portland, a block off of the busy Hawthorne avenue. We have been battling problems with drug dealers, stolen cars, abandonded cars, and loitering homeless. All of these problems have been getting better over time. There is another issue that comes about each year. It seems every year around the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve, the instances of illegal fireworks in Portland appears in our neighborhood.

From my personal perspective it is getting worse. There are more instances of firecrackers, shells, and other air based displays. I believe that the Portland Police don’t really care about the use of illegal fireworks.

As an example, on Saturday night (July 8th) at 11pm, someone in the neighborhood was setting off skyrockets (much louder than standard bottle rockets) every once in a while. My wife and I went to bed. At 2am, the explosions were a lot louder and more frequent. I looked out the window to see showers of sparks resulting from the skyrockets exploding above our house. I changed my clothes to go out and find the people responsible. By the time I got outside (not two minutes later), I saw that there were lights from a patrol car flashing on Hawthorne. I saw two individuals sitting on the corner. I walked up to the intersection and watched the proceedings. The officer gave one individual his license back, and the individuals walked away. It was pretty clear that these were the guys responsible for the fireworks. I approached the officer, and he didn’t seem to care about the problem we had been experiencing. He told me he was “cutting them loose”, and wouldn’t say anything beyond that. I would assume he would at least cite them for the fireworks. While I appreciate the officer’s presence, I certainly didn’t appreciate his lack of action, nor his lack of sympathy for my frustration.

We live in the city. As a result, we have some expectation that people are going to be unpleasant from time to time. Living in the city, though, we also have the expectation that Portland City Police officers are going to make an effort to enforce the laws, not just the ones that are convenient.

As an example, in the past, I have caught homeless people in my yard urinating on the property. The Police were called (via the non-emergency number), and the Police response was to ask them to leave. I made it plain to the operator, and the officer on site what I had witnessed. I’m pretty sure that urination in public is an offense that warrants a citation. While I think it is likely that a homeless person will fail to pay for a citation, or fail to appear in court, failure to cite them also leaves their record clean. In my mind this just compounds the problem. If they had been cited, and failed to appear, the offense would appear the next time the Police checked their identification.

Thanks for your time.

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