Eugene residents have started to question the police presence in the city recently, as the new ordinance is creating tension between the Eugene Police Department and citizens of the city. However, the Downtown Neighborhood has had issues with the police presence, or lack thereof, in the area surrounding the Downtown Eugene Bus Station in years past.
According to experience downtown businessman Walt Hunt, 64, the police presence in the downtown area has been a lot better in recent years. Hunt, who has worked downtown for more than thirty years said that before the police activity in the neighborhood picked up “things got rough and merchants left due to the bad events happening in downtown.” Hunt said that hundreds of businesses had to close down in the last couple of years due to this problem.
Since the Eugene Police Department started patrolling downtown on bikes, the public feels safe enough to venture into the neighborhood and support local businesses. Mr. Hunt has been working at New Odyssey, an organic food café, for years and said that businesses had to close down because of what he thinks was a fear from the dangerous activity that happened downtown. Hunt has heard rumors of the new police presence picking on people in the area, but he has not personally seen this happen. However safe Walt Hunt feels, there are downtown regulars who feel as though things can continue to improve.
Erandi Gutierrez, 21, is an employee of Burrito Boy downtown and spends a lot of her free time in the neighborhood as well. Gutierrez said downtown is “pretty secure” and she “always sees cops around making the area safer.” However, she also said that the police can continue to improve their patrolling of the area due to the interesting crowds that the downtown neighborhood attracts. Gutierrez would like to see the bike police officers perform extra patrols in the morning and around noon during the day to secure the neighborhood even more.
Many downtown visitors will tell you about the interesting crowds that can be observed throughout the neighborhood and that they do not see police often enough in the area. However, according to William Stevenson, a cashier at the bus station’s convenience store, said that even if there are not bike cops on patrol in sight, the department has been better about responding to calls in the neighborhood. As well as the existence of police has improved over the years, Stevenson said that there is sure to always be room for improvement, something everyone can agree on. For now, downtown patrons are enjoying the security that they have and can only hope for the smaller issues to continue being resolved in the area.