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Officers would address chronic nuisances

A proposal to add more police officers to deal with chronic nuisance problems in Medford will be discussed by the City Council Thursday night.

The three new officers, a code enforcement officer and a records specialist would be part of a “livability team” that would deal directly with difficult problems in neighborhoods. The cost of the program would be $560,000 a year.

To pay for the team, city officials have suggested to the council that it increase the public safety fee on utility bills by $14.52 a year, or $1.21 a month. In addition, the city might qualify for a federal grant of $125,000 annually for a three-year period, which would reduce the fee to $11.28 per year, or 94 cents a month.

A number of issues confront Medford police that take extra time and effort to resolve, including chronic nuisance properties such as drug houses. Throughout Medford, people are living in recreational vehicles, either on the street or in driveways. Also, low-level drug activity in some neighborhoods has been an ongoing problem.

“These are the things that get people upset,” Medford police Deputy Chief Scott Clauson said. “It’s not just a homeless issue.”

The council will hold a study session at 6 p.m. Thursday in City Hall, 411 W. Eighth St.

Corvallis has a similar livability team, approved through a 2013 tax levy and then expanded after the city received an annual grant of $400,000. Corvallis’ team conducts foot and bicycle patrols.

Other ideas to increase police presence in Medford include more overtime for officers, expanding the health and safety outreach to homeless people living along the Bear Creek Greenway to two times a month, and downtown cleanups.

The city has an existing program to enforce a no-camping ordinance on the Greenway. Police attempt to help violators, including veterans, get mental and physical health services. Currently the Parks and Recreation Department spends $11,300 annually on those efforts.

An enhanced police patrol in the downtown was staffed from August to November 2017 at a cost of $11,500.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on ww.twitter.com/reporterdm.