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MailTribune.com
  • Ashland exclusion zone linked to drop in related calls to police

  • An Ashland law that bans repeat violators from the downtown has led to a drop in calls for police help there, according to data from the Ashland Police Department.
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  • An Ashland law that bans repeat violators from the downtown has led to a drop in calls for police help there, according to data from the Ashland Police Department.
    Calls for police help had been rising before the Ashland City Council adopted a downtown enhanced law enforcement area — also known as an exclusion zone — in August 2012.
    People who commit three offenses — such as drinking in public, public urination, assault and harassment — within a six-month period can be banned from the downtown for three months.
    If found downtown, banned people can be arrested and taken to the Jackson County Jail in Medford.
    "Some of the people who have been most disruptive haven't been able to be downtown," said police Chief Terry Holderness.
    Police fielded 1,066 calls for service from the beginning of August 2011 through the end of August 2012.
    That number fell to 943 calls for service from the beginning of August 2012 through the end of August this year, according to police data.
    During the summer of 2011, police received 274 calls for service.
    Numbers spiked to 391 calls for service in the summer of 2012, before the exclusion zone went into effect.
    Calls for service dipped to 320 this summer, according to police data.
    Since the exclusion zone went into effect, 18 people received enough citations to be banned from the downtown, police said.
    At least eight of those have left town, police believe.
    Together, people who have been banned from the downtown have amassed numerous offenses, including theft and burglary, urinating in public, trespassing, disorderly conduct, having an open container of alcohol in public, drinking alcohol in public, unauthorized entry of motor vehicles, furnishing alcohol to a minor, assault, menacing and failing to appear in court, according to public records and Police Department data.
    Several have long histories of problem behavior in Ashland, public records show.
    Councilor Carol Voisin said volunteers with the group Plaza Watch, which monitors downtown activity, have been impressed with the way police have been dealing with people, including transients.
    In addition to the exclusion zone, seven-day-per-week police coverage downtown, an increase in park patrol staffing and a new cadet program may also be reducing crime and disorder downtown, police said.
    A grant helped fund that increased law enforcement downtown, but police coverage may decrease next summer, Holderness said.
    Ashland Daily Tidings staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.
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