Neighborhood Assignment #3 Downtown Eugene

Last week our group interviewed Walt Hunt, owner of New Odyssey Juice Bar and Espresso, about the public safety of Downtown Eugene. He said there was not a strong a police presence in the area and the lack of authority contributed to the gang violence in the community.

Today, Marissa and I went earlier this morning to talk with residents in the north and south parts of town to broaden our understanding of the subject. Sarah Dosch, bartender at DOCS Pad Restaurant and Sports Lounge, has not encountered a problem regarding public safety saying that she does not feel unsafe downtown. She is 24 and recently moved to Eugene from the Midwest.

Josh Marks is age 33 and is a student at Lane Community College (LCC). On his way to school he said he saw two bike cops and feels that the area is secure. Before the interview he said the problem wasn’t brought to his attention until now. Also, he was surprised when I told him that the UO Public Safety Dept. is now formally named the UO Police Dept.

Later, we met a teller at US Bank named Maureen. She found the downtown area more hostile than others simply because there are more people that come through. However, she described an independent neighborhood watch called the “Red Hats” who patrol a ten block radius for people loitering. The bank has their number and says they call the “Red Hats” sparingly.

Andy, a groundskeeper at Skinner Butte Park, unlike Maureen does not feel there is a big safety issue aside from bikers speeding on occasion. But, he did tell us about a murder that happened three years ago in the park where two college students beat a homeless man.

Based on these testimonies, our next step is to determine what happened between 2009 to today that have contributed to the overall public safety of Eugene as most of the incidents that have occurred happened around that time and were influenced by gangs mostly. What steps did Police and the community undertake to ensure the safety of community members  What are they doing now? What do they plan to do to raise awareness?

Doc’s Pad, Sports Bar and Lounge
710 Willamette St.
Eugene, OR 97401

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