The Eugene Police Department’s new Street Crimes Unit is now rolling out operations and putting prolific offenders on notice with their first operation on Tuesday, March 12, at 2566 Willona Drive.
“To say that I am excited about our Street Crimes Unit is an understatement,” said EPD Chief Chris Skinner. “These are some of our most highly motivated and skilled staff and they are passionate about this new mission. They are going to make a dynamic difference in a variety of public safety issues including on emerging crimes and neighborhood livability issues. This team creates capacity within the organization to address and solve problems throughout the city of Eugene. Our team is a tangible outcome of the one-time,18-month bridge funding by Eugene City Council that is dedicated to targeting immediate and acute community safety system issues while together we work toward mission-critical enhancements that need to be addressed through a longer-term and broader community safety initiative.”
The SCU will focus on prolific offenders, who are identified through intelligence-based policing, public tips and other sources. They will proactively respond across the city to quality of life issues as they arise, using all available resources and partners such as community groups, neighborhood associations and city services.
The unit currently consists of a lieutenant, a sergeant and four officers. The team will expand to include another sergeant and four additional officers as staffing allows.
The SCU and its activities are made possible by the Eugene City Council’s endorsement of an 18-month bridge-strategy of $8.6 million to address immediate community safety system needs, while it looks for longer-term solutions. This one-time funding was provided in December 2018 via the supplemental budget.
Eugene Police and other community safety partners including police, fire, 911, municipal court, homelessness, and related social services, have begun applying the bridge funding, which sunsets after June 2020. For EPD, that has meant hiring police officers to create a Street Crimes Unit, as well as hiring dispatchers and community service officers, and expanding jail services.
Throughout 2018, the City Council met and worked with staff to gain a deeper understanding of the community safety system and issues, examine possible strategies, get feedback from the community, and ultimately implement measures to address critical safety gaps. The total needed for longer-term system stability is approximately $22 million per year and the Eugene City Council is taking a look at possible funding options.