There were no Council meetings this first week of the
month, but the second meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Police Polices
convened on Tuesday. I encourage people to either tune into these virtual
meetings or watch the recorded session through the City’s website. Eugene
is unique for taking this approach, bringing a broad array of people and
perspectives together to learn about, understand, and propose changes to our
police policies. The second session focused on oversight and accountability,
featuring brief presentations by the Auditor’s office, the Police Commission
and the Civilian Review Board. There is a lot of information to digest
and we all regret the need to do this virtually. I am optimistic that the
committee will be able to zero-in on a few key changes to propose to Council in
We are hearing a lot of concern about the increasing spread of the
Coronavirus. Many people are looking to the City for a law enforcement response
to groups of people who are not masked. The Eugene Police and the
University Police are emphasizing education when they approach gatherings. We
have the authority to issue citations, but at this point, our priority is to
create a cultural norm around taking care of one another. Everyone is tired
and stressed by the cost of staying home, frustrated to miss social gatherings,
and hating masks. The reality is that the simple rules of masks, hand
washing, physical distancing and reducing gatherings of people are the only
ways we will get control of the spread of the virus.
As we approach Halloween, we expect this to continue to be very
challenging. The City has posted guidelines about Halloween which
reinforce the same message. Traditional Trick-or-Treating is a high-risk
activity. We look to families and neighborhoods to find safer ways to
celebrate. Ideas are also posted on the City’s website.
We also continue to hear concerns about homeless campers across the
city. For the most part, the City’s Parks and Open Spaces staff are
monitoring campsites and cleaning them. The Parks Ambassadors are the
first point of contact for camping complaints that do not include suspected
criminal activity. Eugene Police are only called in when needed.
This means that we continue to have many campsites across the community.
Both the City and County are hiring Outreach Teams to connect with homeless
campers, respond to their hygiene and other needs, and refer them to services
when possible. This coming Wednesday, October 14th, Council’s noon session
will be a joint meeting with the County Board of Commissioners to discuss
implementation of the TAC report strategies to address homelessness and our
progress in an array of emergency and temporary shelter options.
Newly on my calendar is a recurring weekly meeting of the South
Valley/Mid-Coast Wildfire Economic Recovery Team. This large working
group will provide insight and concerns to help inform the State’s response to
clean up, debris management, and housing in the areas burned by the Holiday
Farms and Echo Mountain Fires. Environmental remediation and housing
reconstruction will be slow, and many who lost housing will now be included in
our most vulnerable population.
These are daunting challenges. But in every case – police reform in
response to racial injustice, pandemic, homelessness and fires – our answers
are the same. We need to build housing, jobs, and opportunities. We
can do this.