Local police are crowing about a downward slide in summertime crime in one of Northeast Portland's most popular parks.
The Portland Police Bureau attributes the drop in calls for service to its Holladay Park Safety Plan — a new partnership between authorities and community leaders intended to take the place of discontinued parks programming.
As part of the plan, church ministers, teachers and other respected figures walk arm in arm with patrol officers through the greenspace, stopping to interact with youth and offering tips on public decorum.
Here's the details of the decrease, with the data comparing May 5 through July 22 of this year to the same timeframe in 2018:
• 45% drop in thefts
• 50% drop in assaults
• 18% drop in disturbance calls
"The results speak for themselves," said Sgt. Brad Yakots, a 12-year veteran of the force who is based in the North Precinct. "These are community stakeholders who want to walk around with the police."
Yakots says the bureau's goal is to maintain a "constant presence" in the 4.3-acre park that is bordered by the Lloyd Center mall and a bustling MAX stop. Community leaders, Yakots says, are able to instruct local youth in ways that a uniformed police officer usually can't.
"It wasn't just the police saying it, it was the community saying it," he explained. "Sometimes it was their pastor, their teacher, their neighbor saying this type of activity is not okay."
According to PPB's Strategic Services Division, there are some types of calls for service that have increased in Holladay Park: Reports of stolen vehicles are up 25%, and crashes are up 38%, for instance.
The Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church has been one of the largest contributors to the safety plan. As the Tribune previously reported, the Lloyd Center's owners, Cypress Equities, had paid for activities in the park each summer since 2015, but stopped footing the bill this year due to cost concerns.
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