PPB: Not enough resources, personnel to deter street racing

PPB: Not enough resources, personnel to deter street racing

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As violence erupted following Sunday’s demonstrations, illegal street racers once again caused problems across the city. In most cases, police didn’t respond.

At about 9 p.m., drivers shut down the Fremont Bridge. In a video posted to Twitter by KOIN 6’s Jenny Young, smoke from burning tires can be seen rising from the bridge deck.

The street drifting activity then moved to the Rose Quarter on the Wiedler Street ramp near I-5 – and several other locations around town including the intersection of 48th Avenue and Southeast Division Street. Business owners at this location said street drifting is a very dangerous ongoing problem here.

“Obviously I have a concern for my guests and staff with this outdoor dining area,” said Jim Constantine, owner of Petite Provence. “I was told the dispatcher for 911 would notify officers and they would decide whether or not they would respond.”

“Over the past year, I’ve called about six times and there has never been a response,” he said.

Residents and business owners told KOIN 6 they are extremely frustrated by the lack of response from the city. Many are also afraid to talk on camera – because they say these street racing gatherings have a history of turning violent.

KOIN 6 News viewers reported street racing in areas near the Moda Center, Swan Island, Southeast Division Street and on the Fremont Bridge as late as 4 a.m. on Monday.

Police confirmed they were aware street racers were active, saying they understand how dangerous these activities can be and how frustrating it is for other commuters.

Throughout the whole night, only one street racing event was disrupted by a police response.

Officers arrived at Southeast 47th Avenue and SE Division Street around 3:30 a.m. Allen said officers used lights and sirens to encourage people to leave the area. This reportedly prompted vehicles to leave immediately, resulting in several traffic stops away from the area.

One citation was issued, but no further details have been given at this time. No injuries were reported.

The Portland Police Bureau is citing a lack of resources and personnel as to why street racers were able to take over city streets once again Sunday.

PPB public information officer Kevin Allen told KOIN it is frustrating for officers as well — so they “encourage participants to find legal ways to engage in vehicle-related activity.”

“For the most part, the Police Bureau does not have resources or personnel to deter street racing in the city. On-duty personnel has to manage incoming calls for service as calls come in,” Allen explained. “We are in a response mode more than in a deterrent mode or prevention mode.”

Allen said the PPB would like to be able to offer more prevention, faster response and closer attention to neighborhood crime — but the bureau simply does not have the resources to act at times. 

“The on-duty supervisors made the difficult decision to respond in the event there was a specific threat to life safety, beyond the risky behavior people were engaging in at those locations,” he said. “Their determination was that resources did not allow for other options.”

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