More than 50 people gathered at the Colton Fire Station to learn how to better protect the Colton area from crime

PIONEER PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - From left to right at the table are Greg Adams, Colton Fire Chief Richard Beaudoin, CCSO Deputy Tony Mayer, CCSO Lieutenant Graham Phalen and Clackamas County Commissioner Ken Humberston.

Greg Adams, an administrator of the Colton Oregon Community Watch Facebook page, organized a town hall meeting for members of the community. The meeting, held July 30 in the Colton Fire Station, had more than 50 area residents gathered to learn how to help better protect the Colton area from crime.

Adams began the meeting by presenting some statistical data. Colton is 46 square miles with a population of 5,425. The crime statistics for the past three years and 2018 year-to-date as well as trending data were presented by crime and year. The data included the following categories:

Burglary-3 in 2015, 4 in 2016, 13 in 2017, 6 in 2018 (year-to-date); the projected trend for the current year is for 10 burglaries with a projected drop in the crime of burglaries committed in 2018 of 21 percent;

Criminal mischief-1 in 2015 , 2 in 2016, 3 in 2017, 1 in 2018 (year-to-date) with a projected trend for the current year of 2 crimes of criminal mischief and a projected drop in the crime of criminal mischief for the year of 43 percent;

Drug related arrests-1 in 2015, 4 in 2016, 3 in 2017, 2 in 2018 (year-to-date) with a projected trend for the year of 3 drug incidents and a projected increase in drug incidents for the year of 12 percent;

Stolen vehicles-3 in 2015, 2 in 2016, 2 in 2017, 5 in 2018 (year-to-date) with a projected trend for the current year of 9 stolen vehicles and a projected increase in stolen vehicles for the year of 329 percent;

Theft-17 in 2015, 14 in 2016, 9 in 2017, 10 in 2018 (year-to-date) with a projected trend for the current year for the crime of theft of 17 and a projected increase in theft crimes of 90 percent.

Adams then introduced Clackamas County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant Graham Phalen, Clackamas County Sheriff's deputies Dennis Kishpuagh and Tony Mayer, Clackamas County Commissioner Ken Humberston and Colton Fire Chief Richard Beaudoin as members of the discussion board.

Phalen spoke of ways to help deal with the area's "chronic nuisance" houses that have drawn much attention on the Colton Community Watch Facebook page for alleged links to criminal- and drug-related activities.

Phalen said CCSO is well aware of the homes and has been working on it formally since May. He went on to explain the Clackamas County Neighborhood Livability Project where CCSO works with Health and Human Services and mental health clinicians to help with poverty, addiction and mental health issues as a way to address the problems as short stays in jail are not a deterrent. He gave examples of how drug treatment and rehab, access to mental health professionals and job training have helped in other locations.

Phalen also said county code enforcement has visited the local properties and issued multiple violation citations, which must be addressed or the owners could be sued by the county.

As to what the community can do to help with criminal activity, Phalen suggests when you see something suspicious, report it to non-emergency by calling 503-655-8211. He also stressed reporting anything that is stolen, even if it is an item as small as a missing weed-wacker it needs to be reported.

CCSO has a new data crime analysis program, and they are entering all information and keeping track of where and when suspicious activity and crimes happen so they can address all issues.

"We can't guarantee we can send deputies or staff for non-emergency," Phalen said. "But we can have more localized attention to the problem areas."

Phalen emphasized if you have prowlers on your property or someone entering your garage, outbuildings or home or in the process of stealing, call 911 and stay on the phone.

When asked about using a gun to protect property, Phalen said, "In Oregon, you cannot shoot in defense of property and when law enforcement arrives they cannot quickly identify who is the good guy and who is the bad guy when weapons are involved."

Phalen said some of the best ways to discourage criminals are: getting to know your neighbors; putting up no trespassing signs; improving lighting; adding motion detectors, trail cams, gates, and cameras; and if you see something report it, then post on Facebook.

Phalen said a hit of meth and heroin now costs less than a cup of coffee, and a small item stolen can pay for a day's worth of addiction. This is one of the reasons why it is important to have all the data compiled by the analysis team. The more data, the better for law enforcement so they can address the problem areas.

At the Board of County Commissioners meeting, held Aug. 2, Humberston spoke about attending the Colton Town Hall meeting, about the good discussions on theft and the sheriff working with Neighborhood Livability. He also said that due to the meeting, a day or two later some people from Colton felt comfortable enough to call non-emergency when they saw suspicious activities, and two arrests were made.

"It was nice seeing the interest from both the community and from CCSO and Commissioner Humberston, too," Adams said. "The problem has been recognized by all, and together we can make an impact. They need our eyes, and we need their muscle to rid our community of the nuisance houses that contain the druggies and thieves. I'm excited to see the progress happen."

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