Bridge confrontation renews concern about homelessness - KPTV - FOX 12

Bridge confrontation renews concern about homelessness

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The latest confrontation between the homeless and Portland police took place underneath the Morrison Bridge on Tuesday morning when a dog bit an officer as police were trying to clear the area.

Police said they had to use pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

Central precinct commander Robert Day said clearing the streets is nothing new, but the confrontations are a bigger concern than in the past.

"We have a greater number of people sleeping on the street but I think we also have a greater degree of an underlying criminal element that we haven't seen in the past that's not only a danger to us but it's been a danger to each other," Day said.

Commander Day said some of the homeless people under the bridge are repeatedly looking for conflict and don't have the same values as others on the streets.

"They are resistant to services. They take and take and take; there's no interest in giving; there's no interest in trying to get better; there's no interest in trying to make a change," Day said.

"Honestly, some of the homeless people do wrong, but the police also do wrong," said Jordan, a man who captured the confrontation on cell phone video and did not want his last name published. "Just give (the homeless) a chance (to move out) instead of jumping to conclusions and assuming things that aren't true."

One thing that all stakeholders seem to agree on is that the current back-and-forth between police and the homeless isn't productive.

"At some point we need to establish some kind of basic rules of conduct that are going to be appropriate and acceptable that we can kind of agree upon and then enforce and have some standards and expectations," Day said.

The commander said the community at large is going to have to come together for a solution.

The solution may involve legislation or ordinances, but he said more arrests are not the answer.

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