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Mountain residents raise concerns over increase in crime posted on 11/01/2018

Approximately 120 Mount Hood community members gathered at a Sept. 25 meeting to discuss the increase in property crime, concerns about the proper agency to contact to report a code violation or criminal activity and other crime related issues with representatives from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Police.

The meeting was held at the Mt. Hood Oregon Resort in response to growing property crime increases over recent months.

The meeting was attended by Oregon State Representative Jeff Helfrich, Clackamas County Commissioners Sonya Fischer, Ken Humberston and Paul Savas, Oregon State Police representative Sr. Trooper Reel and Community Service Officer Sara McClurg of the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

“Property crimes have been elevated the last three to six months,” officer McClurg said during a follow-up phone conversation. She stated there has been a growth of the homeless population in the region and an increase of issues with squatters and associated criminal activity.

“We are currently pursuing a significant arrest,” McClurg said about the recent increase in property crimes. “We’re very hopeful that some of this will decrease.”

Brigette Romeo, manager of the Still Creek Inn in Rhododendron, said there was widespread concern among attendees over recent break-ins, car thefts and other property crimes. She added that there was public concern expressed at the meeting over which agency to contact when reporting criminal activity, code violations or wildlife encountered on property.

Officer McClurg said she is compiling a follow-up resource page of what agency people should contact to report specific violations or criminal activities. She added that it can be confusing as to what agency to contact when reporting squatting or other activity on state or federal lands.

Community members also expressed concerns with sheriff department response times at the meeting.

Officer McClurg noted that the department operates in a large district and response time varies depending on the number of deputies working and the severity of the incidence.

“Property crimes take a back seat to life and limb,” McClurg said. She added that a severe incident such as a traffic fatality can require most available department resources.

Both McClurg and commissioner Humberston cited the growing increase in mental health problems as an issue taxing county resources.

“It plagues us just like it does every other community,” said commissioner Humberston. “I’ve been doing ride-alongs (with county sheriffs)

and one common comment is the increase in mental health problems with very little resources to deal with them.”

Humberston stated the sheriff’s department is exploring the possibility of a livability project that would increase access to a variety of social services to address some of the mental health issues being encountered in more rural areas in the county. He added the county has significantly more needs than resources when addressing the scope of these problems.

“I encourage people to be alert and aware,” said Humberston, encouraging citizens to report suspicious activity in their community. “It does help reducing the overall crime problem.”

McClurg stated that the meeting provided insight into issues of concern in the community. “There was a lot of passion in the room, some good input and some issues we definitely want to address.”

Community service officer Sarah McClurg can be contacted at saramcc@clackamas.us and more information about sheriff department resources can be found at https://www.clackamas.us/sheriff. The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners can be reached by email at bcc@clackamas.us.

By Benjamin Simpson/MT

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