Crime reporting empowers citizens through information
So it's official, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office is taking over patrols in Fairview beginning in August, just like it already has in Troutdale. These were smart decisions by these cities, providing cost efficiencies and added benefits in terms of law enforcement and public safety. The Outlook is in full support of these actions.
But, we have one significant concern.
Readers of The Outlook have told us repeatedly how they deeply value our Public Safety logs. These reports are among the most read items in our newspaper, right along with Sharon Nesbit's weekly column.
As a news organization, we run these logs as a way of keeping residents informed about criminal activities in their community — break-ins, car prowls, DUII arrests, illegal drug possession and sales, and other such crimes.
We believe that a well-informed citizenry is armed with essential information that permits smart choices and appropriate precautions. The Public Safety logs in The Outlook are a critical link in that communication pipeline, and are a feature our readers have turned to for decades.
This isn't about selling more newspapers, and it's not about reporting the salacious dirt of a community.
These logs are about informing people about what transpires in neighborhoods, schools and communities at-large. We know our readers want this information, because they account for the single-largest number of complaints we receive when they don't appear on our pages. Our readers want this information.
But discerning readers will have noticed that when the city of Troutdale turned its law enforcement over to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office, the reporting on police activity all but disappeared.
Now, you only hear about the major crimes that occur in Troutdale.
As the city of Fairview makes its transition, the consistent reporting of criminal activity in that community is likely to follow the path established in Troutdale.
You should know that the information that appears in The Outlook's Public Safety logs is public record and should be made available upon request without question and without hesitation to anyone who asks. That's how the state's public records law is intended to work.
We don't really know yet where this is heading as Fairview makes its transition, but on the assumption that the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office applies the same protocol as it does in Troutdale, the level of communication on criminal activity is about to plummet.
If you don't like the sound of that, we encourage you to let us know. We'll run your letters on our Opinion page. And we also encourage you to reach out to Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese directly, and let him know that you value a free flow of information on local law enforcement.
And we respectfully ask that Sheriff Reese personally take a look at this issue, and consider the value of a well-informed community.
Don't want fines? Don't break the rules
The owners of the NW Compassion Medical Center (a recreational pot shop) ought to save their indignation against the city of Wood Village, and apply that energy to something that matters.
The business at the corner of Northeast 238th Drive and Halsey Street has been fined $3,000 for violating the city's sign ordinance. There's a simple solution to avoidance of this and future fines: follow the rules.
Some may jump to a conclusion that this enforcement singles out NW Compassion because it peddles marijuana products. But honestly, nobody cares about that.
Codes exist in cities to put all businesses on a level playing field, and to avoid unsightly, gaudy, inappropriate signage. This isn't a free speech issue, as much as it's a community livability issue.
In this case, NW Compassion uses two female mannequins, which are holding signs that say "Got Chronic."
If the city's sign code allowed such street advertising, we might go as far as to agree that it's an entertaining way of promoting a business. But it does run afoul of the city code. Until the code changes, this is the rule that applies to everyone.
The city's sign code bans portable signs in most zones, with the exception of signs that relate to garage sales, real estate and political campaigns.
If the owners of NW Compassion want to pursue a change in the sign code, we recommend they do so by working with the city government and other business owners in Wood Village. But in the meantime, the business shouldn't be surprised when the code-compliance officer comes knocking.