After nearly 2 months, a troublesome camp was removed in East Portland. A string of threats, thefts, and shootings left First Response Security Officers and their community to take matters into their own hands and bring Peace of Mind to their doorsteps of local businesses and homeowners.
A rowdy camp had inhabited a sidewalk between a popular shopping center and a once quiet neighborhood, creating a pattern of continuous crime and disturbances.
Dating back all the way to June 1st, Security Officer Foster knew that 90% of his time would be spent protecting business owners from this specific camp. “Every day was mentally taxing for all of us. We consider ourselves a family. We all have different personalities, come from different backgrounds and communities, but when we get on-site, we move as a unit and do whatever it takes to help the client. But this camp, it was a whole other beast. 24 hours of constant conflict with no letup”
“The camp was like nothing we’ve seen before.” Security Officer Mayer added. “They were very entitled, aggressive, and heavily armed. It was like every night they would drink and go in droves to try and loot the business, sometimes at gun point. It’s why we’re here. The businesses didn’t know what else to do.”
Although originally hired by the shopping center, the chaos from the camp had encroached onto the neighboring residential area as well. “Bless their hearts because they really tried to help.” Security Officer Foster recounts. “They tried to bring them bedding, clothes, blankets, trash bags, but the camp wasn’t having it all.” It was often the opposite response. Homeowners and neighbors were often met verbal attacks and threats of arson and robbery. Like the business owners, the neighborhood had had enough.
On days when tensions were high, specifically threats of gun violence, Security Officers tried their best to lean on local law enforcement for help. Unfortunately, unless someone was physically hurt, response from authorities was little to none.
During one specific call, local authorities gave Officer Mayer a city number to contact. “I was calling the number every day. At one point I called them 12 times in a single shift. Tried to explain shootings, violence, robberies, but it didn’t seem to matter. Eventually we all got the idea to pass the number along to the residents as well. We all started calling, and it seemed to move our case up the chain of command. And one day, local authorities came and packed everyone up and sent them on their way. Just like that, everything changed.”
It is important to note that Security Officers can only do so much for transients that are on public property, as outlined here. And the same thing goes for law enforcement as well. What got the job done was the Security Officers going above and beyond to provide Peace of Mind to their client and the neighboring citizens. It was them finding a legal way to get the threat removed and bring safety to the whole community. It was not enough to keep the camp off their client’s site. The Security Officers wanted everyone involved to feel safe.
“It gave us a lot of pride to get that done.” Officer Foster gleams. “We are who they see every day. They look at us with joy. I’m proud to come to work. It gives me purpose to know that I’m helping the client and community feel happy and safe. Like I said before, at this point, we’re all a family.”