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City of Bend tackling downtown safety issues


Earlier this week, NewsChannel 21 reported on a Bend business owner who was punched in the face by a homeless man in downtown Bend.

Matt Paine ended up with a black eye, three stitches and two CT scans. He said he thinks something needs to change. After that story aired, we heard from another downtown business owner who feels much the same.

The Bend Police Department says it’s not usual to receive calls to downtown.

“A lot of times, there’s a concentration of people downtown, which is going to add to our calls for service. But we see assaults to harassment to parking problems, so we do see the full gambit of calls down there,” said Lt. Jason Maniscalco said Thursday..

And Bend PD is taking action, along with the city, to address criminal activity and safety concerns.

Security cameras are in the works, as are increased hours at the Bend Police Substation and a new, safer design for the South Mirror Pond parking lot.

Earlier this week, more than half a dozen downtown Bend business owners told NewsChannel 21 they actually think the area is getting safer.

But not everyone agrees, including Mark Smith, CEO of Ventana Research in downtown Bend.

“Come to work early in the morning and you never know who’s sleeping, who’s going to the bathroom in the (parking) garage, who’s peeling out,” Smith said. “You’ve got people who are asking for money, and they keep following you down the street. I think we can all see that downtown, and (it) probably should be better addressed.”

Smith moved his business to downtown Bend three months ago. He said he’s surprised by the number of issues he and his employees have already faced — even though it’s only winter.

“We can’t just worry about the summertime and tourist season,” Smith said. “We’ve got to worry about the citizens of Bend and make sure they want to come downtown and enjoy it,” Smith said

Some say more issues downtown are inevitable because of the higher number of people who work, live and visit downtown.

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