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City continues to hire new officers; Rockwood Village residents seek crime relief.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Gresham continues to hire more police officers. The number of reported catalytic converters stolen from January through October is down this year across the city of Gresham when compared to that same timeframe in 2021, according to a report given by Gresham City Manager Nina Vetter during a City Council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 16.

Gresham police fielded reports of 246 stolen converters this year, compared to 310 that were stolen last year. The city has also had fewer homeless services requests during that same timeframe — down 20 (113 to 93).

The report included updates on public safety, road projects and new grant funding.

Since November 2021, the city has hired 14 sworn officers and several police professional support staff. There are a further 16 candidates vying for sworn positions and 28 applicants in the interview process for community safety specialist.

Those efforts, while promising in terms of having a fully staffed department, continues to be slowed by a training chokehold in Salem at the Oregon Police Academy. Gresham is still down 17 sworn positions from what is budgeted. Those 16 potential officers — not all are likely to make it through the training process or remain with Gresham — will still have to complete mandatory training. Three new sworn officers who were hired Monday Oct. 31, won't begin training in Salem until March 2023. The soonest they could begin working shifts would be next November.

"We are doing everything we can on our side," said Vetter, referencing new training procedures that now take place before officers go through academy. "We will continue to advocate with other cities to improve the state academy system."

Public safety has been at the forefront for many residents, especially those who moved into the highly-touted Rockwood Village Apartments, an affordable complex with 224 apartments and wraparound services. Several incidents, including a shocking murder-suicide of a young mother, led to requests for a listening session with Gresham leadership and police.

During a welfare check in May officers found a Gresham mother had killed her two young children before taking her own life amid a custody battle with her ex-spouse, police said. Ashley Palmer, 31, and her 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter were all found dead.

In the following months residents have reported continuing incidents, including assaults and harassment. Gresham Police fielded concerns from the community members, and committed to an increased patrol presence at the complex.

City crews are replacing Jenne Bridge, in the shadow of the butte with which it shares its name and the Springwater Corridor Trail. The work is repairing erosion damage as well as wear and tear from the elements.

Finally the city was awarded two sums of money — $12,000 to purchase a mobile fueling tank to improve the city's emergency response capabilities; and $700,000 from Metro Regional Government's Nature in Neighborhoods grant, $30,000 of which will be given to Play Grow Learn to incorporate nature education in its workforce development program.

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