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Portland Police Bureau searches Facebook for livestreams and watches TriMet cameras during Rose Festival

PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - A Portland Police Bureau surveys the scene near a Bureau of Transportation dump truck blocking an intersection near the Rose Quarter during the Grand Floral Parade on Saturday, June 8. The dump trucks sprawled across intersections are an increasingly obvious sign of the times during Portland's parade and street party season.

But it's just the tip of the iceberg.

During almost any large gathering, the Portland Police Bureau sends plainclothes officers into the crowd, while its low-flying surveillance plane takes to the sky. TriMet hands over the keys to its network of transit cameras, allowing the bureau to monitor their video feeds in real time.

Officers are assigned to search out and monitor the live-streams posted to Facebook and various social media sites. SWAT teams monitor parades routes, which are also checked by bomb-sniffing dogs.

"We try to get as much information as possible," explained Officer Carlos Ibarra, a police spokesman. "(Plainclothes officers) can hear what the crowds are talking about, and if there's something to be concerned about, they can relay that to uniformed officers."

The large trucks — typically bearing the seal of the Portland Bureau of Transportation — are another prominent safety measure, one that's been in use by police since the Christmas tree lighting bomb plot at Pioneer Courthouse Square in 2010.

The roadblocks can help prevent vehicle-ramming attacks, which most recently occurred in Charlottesville and New York City in 2017. A terrorist behind the wheel of a cargo truck killed 86 during a Bastille Day celebration in France the year before.

But Ibarra says the more common problem is motorists who unintentionally drive into restricted areas.

"It's not uncommon for folks to drive around our police cars that are blocking the roads," Ibarra said, "because they're focused on something else."

Local police don't have to pay to rent the dump trucks from another city bureau.

"We provide the service as a benefit to public safety and absorb the cost ourselves," noted PBOT's Hannah Schafer. PMG PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Another PBOT dump truck was blocking traffic along the route of the Grand Floral Parade in Portland on Saturday, June 8.


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