City of Portland, Oregon

Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation

City of Portland, Oregon

Target Area: Parkrose and Hollywood Neighborhoods - Parkrose Population: 6,363; Hollywood Population: 1,578

BCJI Awardee: City of Portland

Research Partner: Portland State University Criminal Justice Department

Focus Areas: Social Disorder, Property Crime

BCJI Funding Year: FY2018

Neighborhood Characteristics

According to the 2010 Census, the Parkrose neighborhood has an estimated 2,184 households. Compared to the City of Portland as a whole, the area is more racially diverse with 16 percent of residents identifying as Hispanic and 34.7 percent identifying as non-White. The neighborhood also has a lower median household income and a higher proportion of residents renting their homes instead of owning them. Annual violent crime rates in Parkrose consistently exceeded the citywide totals every year from 2000 to 2014, averaging 19.9 incidents per 1,000 residents versus the citywide average of 13.2 incidents per 1,000 residents. The rate of violent offending decreased by 15.6 percent compare to the city's decline of 46.2 percent. Concerning property crimes, the neighborhood averaged 218 incidents per 1,000 residents versus the citywide rate of 108.2 incidents per 1,000 residents, and the change over time (-20.3 percent) was less than half of what was seen for the city total.

The Hollywood neighborhood is smaller than Parkrose with 931 households, and less diverse with 11.1 percent of residents identifying as non-White and 4.8 percent identifying as Hispanic. However, Hollywood has similarly persistent challenges with crime. Between 2000 and 2014, the neighborhood averaged 25 violent offenses per 1,000 residents and 168.2 property offenses per 1,000, both well above the citywide rates. While violent crime dropped by 33.2 percent over this period, property crimes increased by 13.6 percent.

Planning Phase

At the beginning of the Planning Phase, the cross-sector partner team hired a full-time grant-funded project coordinator. The coordinator manages efforts between the coalition partners, which has entailed work at the Portland Police Bureau's (PPB) North Precinct, the PPB's Strategic Services Division (SSD), Parkrose neighborhood offices, and Hollywood neighborhood offices. They also collaborated with Portland State University (PSU) to facilitate research led by Dr. Kris Henning. Initial community surveys and coalition-building transitioned into engagement strategies and capacity development efforts. The coalition members, led by the coordinator, worked with PSU to develop a community engagement and capacity-building plan. This plan included specific strategies designed to create two-way channels of communication between those in the neighborhood and the PPB using traditional methods, such as in-person community meetings, and non-traditional techniques like utilizing social media, holding participatory mapping sessions, and conducting outreach specific to marginalized residents.

The first major milestone was accomplished through the Early Action Project (EAP), which was held by the collaborative PSU and PPB team. This team distributed public safety surveys to every address within the two neighborhoods' boundaries. The surveys sought to gain insight about what sense of safety community members felt in their neighborhoods, their perceptions of the police, and which specific problems they felt were most prevalent in their areas. It also enabled community members to identify where they believed these problems were occurring by pinpointing the specific locations on a map.

With the help of neighborhood leaders in both Parkrose and Hollywood, two separate steering committees were formed, one representing each neighborhood. The steering committees are made up of business owners and residents from each community who have committed their ongoing participation in guiding the direction of the project. With this guidance, 4-6 distinct problems were selected in each neighborhood. The steering committees assisted in prioritizing the chosen list of problems and provided input for the intervention strategies to follow.

In order to fully inform their targeted selections, the steering committees were shown a full data analysis of the public safety survey results, as well as an analysis of the PPB's calls for service and arrest data. The ability to compare and contrast the survey data alongside the police data allowed them to make the most informed decisions regarding the problems in each neighborhood. In addition to the steering committee input, the final intervention strategies of the Action Plan were informed by available evidence-based research and PPB response capabilities. As interventions are decided upon, partnerships with additional relevant community organizations and governmental agencies will be formed to better facilitate the project's goals.

Implementation Strategies

The combined influence of COVID-19, over 100 consecutive days of civil unrest, reductions in police staffing, additional data analysis, and community meetings led the Portland BCJI team to refine their implementation goals to the following four:

  1. Decrease property crime and improve satisfaction with the police among victims.
    • Strategy: Increase the number of follow-up contacts with recent crime victims by hiring additional unarmed, uniformed Public Safety Support Specialists (PS3s) to respond to non-emergency calls for service and other community-related activities.
  2. Increase perceived safety in and around the Hollywood transit center.
    • Strategy: Provide supplemental and overtime foot patrols for PS3s around the Hollywood transit center to act as a deterrent for criminal activity. The PS3s will report suspicious activity to dispatchers so they can dispatch sworn officers when necessary.
  3. Decrease crime and calls for service at problem hotels and motels in Parkrose.
    • Strategy: Conduct outreach to hotel, motel, and adjacent business owners regarding relevant crime data and calls for services and reviews of ordinances concerning problematic businesses. This strategy will encourage property managers to take a more proactive approach in addressing physical and social disorder on their premises. 
  4. Improve property maintenance and decrease physical disorder.
    • Strategy: Coordinate with neighborhood associations to spearhead a series of opportunities for community engagement and locally identified community improvement projects, such as greenspace beautification, community clean-ups, needle destruction machines, and waste management.


Other Key Partners

Portland Police Bureau North Precinct, Portland State University, Historic Parkrose, Parkrose Neighborhood Association, Hollywood Neighborhood Association, Hollywood Boosters, TriMet

This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2018-BJ-BX-K035 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions contained herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. References to specific agencies, companies, products, or services should not be considered an endorsement by the author(s) or the U.S. Department of Justice. Rather, the references are illustrations to supplement discussion of the issues. 

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