Park Rangers Workshop

First of all...
Thank you for participating in this workshop, and we do acknowledge the importance of the work your department does to secure and maintain our parks for public use. Use of the parks by the houseless community is complex, and your understanding will help defuse most situations in the field for you, and and your patrons.

Empathy:
Where would you officers live if you exhausted all friends, family and resources in today’s economy?

Barriers to housing / Felonies / Disabled / Unemployable because of sleep deprivation / hygiene / storing your belongings?

Have any friends or family been homeless, or be facing possible homelessness if they lose their jobs?

Perspective:
Change your perspective to include that empathy upon approach, keeping in mind they're park patrons, and you are customer service personnel.

Patience:
Is part of education. Teaching them what you expect from them to keep a sustainable, clean, low-impact existence is key to successful communication and cohabitation. Give them time to acclimate this knowledge.

Displacement:
Housing cost and availability has been becoming a bigger and bigger issue. A minimum wage job or even as much as $15 an hour is rarely sufficient to rent a space for yourself or your family. There are many houseless folks who work, but can't afford housing. So wouldn't it be better if you were part of a solution, and not part of the problem. The problem, there is not sufficient housing our shelter to put everyone experiencing homelessness, and their existence and physical human activity does not constitute criminal behavior.



The Homeless Camp Protocol
At the request of Commissioner Fritz, PP&R has reviewed and revised its guidelines related to homeless camps identified in parks. The revised guidelines are effective immediately and will be adopted by Park Rangers, City Nature and zone maintenance staff.

Rangers and/or other park staff will notify social service agencies of the presence of the camps located in parks. If the site is occupied, staff should determine if the occupants are in need of emergency medical or mental health care, housing or other service and provide the individual(s) with resource information and referral for follow up by the appropriate social service resource (Street Roots guide, JOIN or other social service agency). If the individual(s) agree, staff will contact JOIN to request a site visit.

Because of limited resources, for rule enforcement and camp clean up, staff will follow the
protocol outlined in the new guidelines. City Nature, zone maintenance and Park Rangers should focus enforcement efforts on camps that pose a public safety risk, interfere with a permitted event or are non-compliant with other park rules. Priority focus will be given to large camps that have a significant impact to natural areas and natural habitats.
When identifying camps and/or sleepers, zone maintenance and City Nature crews will record and refer camps to Park Rangers. Upon referral, Park Rangers will attempt to make contact with individual campers and/or sleepers and assess the level of risk each identified camp/sleeping group has to park property and public safety.

When making contact with sleepers, Park Rangers will allow a reasonable time for sleepers to
comply with PCC 20.12.080 Structures in Parks associated with camping (tents, lean-tos, etc.) and allow - sleepers to remain resting until 8:00 am.


Examination of the Homeless Camp Protocol.

We hear that the people are swept in the middle of the night, they call JOIN only to get an answer machine, so a message is left to suffice the sweep.

What is agency contact procedure now?

Is JOIN the only agency that is contacted?

Are the differences between Campers and Sleepers being observed?

And if these are protocol for engagement are served in a negative manner not resembling the community policing model explained in the protocol, i.e. . “Park Rangers will attempt to make contact with individual campers and/or sleepers and assess the level of risk each identified camp/sleeping group has to park property and public safety.” These campers/sleepers are considered the public, and their safety is part of that equation. .



These are some allowances we think are crucial changes:

Our meetings at city hall which list some of the protocols we thought should be formalized.

1. Rangers basically work from 9-6 and are not otherwise around.

2. Rangers need to expand the training to private security and PPB so the consistency and communications can continue into the after hours within your jurisdiction.

3. 24 hour to 7day notice is required to be adhered to. Is that being followed? And are homeless service providers successfully contacted within that 24 hour period?
( Usually people will stay until the time of displacement, so we are wanting a narrower estimate of the day, within the 7 day period, that the relocation will take place, and to have that date entered onto the posted document.)


4. Need to acknowledge behavior of housed people who are responsible for conflict and
discuss how to separate them from people just trying to be in a safe place or get sleep.

a. Dumping: Couches, swing sets, carpet rolls...things that houseless folks may have in
their possession, but did not supply to the surroundings.

b. Drinking and Drugs: Cans and bottles, paraphernalia,...may not have
been carried out by houseless folks, so be objective when assessment is made.
d. Conflicts: disturbances, violence, and harassment may be a product of victimization
by other patrons.


5. Need to emphasize that houseless are "park users" and have every right to be in the parks.
As long as the area where folks are staying in the park is clean and there is no disruptive activity that those folks should be allowed to stay in the park and use it as any other citizen would.

6. Need to talk about how to treat houseless and policy changes in that regard, but emphasis
should on attitudinal change needed to stop stereotyping and criminalizing houseless folks.

7. Possible policy requirement that whoever approaches folks is required to give business card with their info.

8. Possible 2 stage approach. First, have training meeting with a few knowledgeable advocates leading the training. Follow with community policing model of street/park meet and greets combined with educating the houseless on becoming better patrons.

9. Community of peers is the healing force when dealing with the trauma of becoming displaced, so ways to promote a healing community structure while still balancing a low-impact, sustainable camp presents




Engaging with People Living Outside

by Ian Love-Jones, @ Multnomah Co. Library

Get to know your regulars: whether it's a Facility Security Officer’s building, or a foot patrol Ranger's route, the old-school magic of "walking the beat" is getting to know the people you regularly see and interact with (names, faces, and personalities). When you know someone's name and habits, cycles, struggles, and successes, they become a person and not just a problem in need of solving. It's a two way interaction also, the more an officer engages with people on a human level, the more human they become in the eyes of the people they have to make contact with. Does "human connection" mean overlooking rule violations, or feeling a critical need to befriend everyone you meet? Nope. But it does mean always leading off with a basic level of respect, while enforcing the rules. It can also means being flexible enough to seek ways that patrons can get what they need or want, while still operating inside the rules. This means providing options: "you can't do x, but you can do y instead/ "the library asks that you don't sit in the windowsill, but here's a chair you can use." The win-win is not always possible, but taking the extra moment to look for it goes a long way.
 *
What is respect for the public (all members)? The best measure of what "respect" means is to ask yourse
lf, "if I was this person, how would I want somebody to speak to me, to handle my belongings, etc." Disclaimer: situations can become volatile or even unsafe and officers have to sometimes respond with a firmer and more forceful tone, but it doesn't have to start there. We start with conversation, and adjust as needed.
 *
Be fair and consistent with rule enforcement. If you enforce all of the rules equally, consistently, and respectfully no one has a (valid) cause to accuse you of playing favorites, discriminating, or making th
e building, or beat hostile to a certain group. Consistency and fairness makes everyone fell safer. Plus it's just the right thing to do.
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Over ti
me, consistency and fairness build a good reputation for the officer. Also, members of the public who have been respected by the officer feel more like a part of the community (and not an outcast) and (may) take more ownership of that community (I couldn't tell you how many times transient patrons tipped us off to unsafe or criminal behavior because they loved the library and felt fairly treated by it's security staff. That goes for formerly excluded patrons as well). Being fair and consistent over time also helps to send a clear message that rule enforcement is a professional necessity, and not a personal attack.
 *
Know your community partners and the resources they offer: We used to pass out rose city resource guides depending on the situation, or also by request. Beyond that though, many of us knew where to direct someone for a shelter, or a shower, a meal, or an opportunity. Some of us even networked with staff at social service agencies in the downtown area. Telling someone to wake up and leave, or to fix their hygiene without offering ways to do so, seems punitive for the sake of being punitive. Offering options can soften the blow, and it shows more concern from the officer
s perspective.
 *
Know the signs of mental illnes
s: Much of our population that lives outside suffers from mental illness, some of the hygiene, behavior, or substance abuse issues stem from mental health concerns. Knowing the signs is helpful not because it is the officer's role to treat the illness, but because communication can work entirely differently, and interactions can shift more quickly with the mentally ill. If there's one take away point it's that a good deal of mentally ill folks perceive every word and gesture in an amplified way, so it's even more important to lead off by setting a calm tone and adjusting as needed.
 *
Take the time to answer routine information questions, or be helpful. Part of being a public servant is answering questions or offering direction where it is appropriate to do so. Take those few moments to speak, people remember it when you give them the time of day, but they remember it longer when you blow them off.

There are a thousand other subtleties about body language, and tone, and the spirit of service, but
these bullet points will set you on the right track.

Anderson Tort Settlement
(condensed)
RELEASE AND HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENT
I
FOR THE SOLE CONSIDERATION of the sum of$3,200.00 (three thousand, two
hundred dollars) for claimed monetary damages to Marlin Anderson, Mary Bailey, Matthew
Chase, Jack Golden, Leo Rhodes and Jerr Baker (hereinafter "the named plaintiffs"), $37,000 inclaimed attorneys' fees and costs to the Oregon Law Center, and the non-monetary terms set out below, the undersigned named plaintiffs in United States District Court for the District of Oregon
Case No. 08-1447-AA, hereby release and forever discharge Police Chief Michael Reese, the
City of Portland, its agents, officers, employees, officials, and all other persons, firms,
corporations or other entities liable or who might be claimed to be liable from any and all claims
for damages and/or injuries from or relating to the events alleged in their complaint.
A. Monetary terms of settlement
1. The City agrees to pay $3,200.00 (three thousand, two hundred dollars) for
claimed economic damages to the individually-named plaintiffs and any other unnamed
beneficiaries designated by Oregon Law Center.
2. The City agrees to pay $37,000.00 (thirty-seven thousand dollars) for claimed
attorney fees and costs to Oregon Law Center.
3. The named plaintiffs agree that in lieu of payment to them, an equivalent
amount to that claimed for attorney fees wil be used by the City of Portland
Housing Bureau for the specific and restricted use as rent-assistance funds in the
Housing Bureau's Homeless program or programs, specifically known as "GFPHB."
Those funds are to be contracted in the City's 2012-2013 Adopted
Budget.
B. Non-monetary terms of settlement:
1. The City wil enforce its camping ordinance (PCC 14A.50.020 or successor)
and its erecting temporary structures ordinance (PCC 14A.50.050 or successor)
citywide in accordance with the protocols set forth in Directive 835.20 and in the
June 15, 2009 Central Precinct memorandum, with the following modifications:
Page 1 - RELEASE AND HOLD HARMLESS AGREEMENT
a) The definition of "established campsite" in Directive 835.20 will be
revised to include "a camp structue such as a hut, lean-to, tent, or other
temporary structure such as cars and/or personal property".
b) Unless an exception as defined in Directive 835.20 applies, officers
will provide advance notice before citation and property removal to all
campers, including those with only a bedroll, those who are partially
blocking sidewalks, and those camping in cars. If a citation without
property removal is to occur, the minimum notice will be a verbal waring
with reasonable time to relocate; reasonable time is usually one hour but
may be shorter if necessary. Both Directive 835.20 and the June 15,2009
memorandum will be revised to reflect these rules.
c) Directive 835.20 wil be revised to reflect the additional notice and
storage requirements that apply when camp cleanups are to occur on a
State of Oregon right-of-way (see OAR Chapter 734, Division 35,
Highway Division).
d) All activity by any person or persons in any Portland Parks remains
governed by Portland City Code Chapter 20, which may include different
rules.

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