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No arrests made in first week of Greenway enforcement

Medford police removed roughly 60 cubic yards of debris from seven homeless camps along the Bear Creek Greenway Thursday. All individuals at the prohibited camps moved into transitional housing or other arrangements, according to police. Medford police photo

The first week of a new Medford law that makes camping along the Bear Creek Greenway a crime ended with zero arrests or citations.

All individuals at seven prohibited camps along the northern portion of Medford’s section of the Bear Creek Greenway left their camps voluntarily, according to a news release issued by Medford police Deputy Chief Trevor Arnold.

Police issued 72-hour notices at seven prohibited camps Monday morning near Railroad Park, according to police.

By Thursday morning, all of the people that the Medford police Livability Team contacted at the camps had “accepted transitional shelter options, or made other arrangements,” the release said. “No enforcement action was taken.”

The release stated that the Livability Team gave people at the camps transportation to their new living arrangements and helped them move their belongings.

Medford City Council voted April 2 to make camping along the Greenway a misdemeanor, and the ordinance went into effect May 1.

Medford Parks and Recreation, Medford Public Works, Oregon Department of Transportation and the nonprofit Rogue Retreat helped to clear the camps of roughly 60 cubic yards of debris from the camps — at least two 22-foot Dumpster loads — and restored the area “as close to its original condition as possible,” according to the release.

Police targeted the area because of heavy vegetation that made the camps a fire risk.

The area was also the site of two homicides this year. The body of 43-year-old Richard Alan Rierson was found near the Greenway Feb. 26, and the body of 46-year-old Aaron Michael Mather was found buried in the area March 26.

Suspect Levi Cole Murray, 17, is charged with second-degree murder in Rierson’s death, and Richard Kemo John Hall, 43, is charged with second-degree murder in Mather’s death.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.