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Security changes, more cameras coming to downtown Bend


The city of Bend is tackling safety concerns in the downtown area, and changes will be visible soon — including more surveillance cameras.

Within the last few weeks, the Downtown Bend Business Association received funding to ramp up security and cleanliness efforts in the area.

A security guard will start patrolling, more cameras will be placed in problem areas and a new high-pressure power washer will be utilized for sidewalks.

“We should have all of these things up in the coming weeks,” Rod Porsche, executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association, said Friday. “And the proof will be in the summertime. Come next June, July, August, we hope that people can see a measurable improvement from previous years.”

Porsche said crime and tensions between businesses and transients peak in the summer. He is hopeful a stronger security presence will discourage illegal activity.

City Councilor Nathan Boddie said these changes will help in the short term, but underlying causes of homelessness also need to be addressed.

“There’s really three things,” Boddie said. “There’s mental health, substance abuse, and then the socioeconomics of homelessness that are leading to the population. I think pretty much everyone that you see that’s homeless downtown has a variation of one or more of those things going on.”

Boddie is part of a working group looking at root causes and solutions to the homeless problem in Central Oregon.

The changes are part of a pilot program. The security guard will be retained through the end of next summer. Porsche said business owners have been asking for this for a long time, and he is expecting the trial run to be a success.

Bend Police Chief Jim Porter also expects a good result.

“We don’t enter into any project without projected outcomes, and we’re projecting outcomes of really changing behavior downtown,” he said, “minimizing the calls that we had over this last year, making it where people feel safer. Quite frankly, what we as a police department do is sell safety.”

The locations for the additional cameras haven’t been decided yet. Porter said the department is looking at where the most calls come from and what types of calls they are.

This is also the topic of our new KTVZ.COM Poll: Do you favor more police surveillance cameras in areas of high safety concerns? Find it halfway down the right side of our home page.

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