A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Trouble in parks: City proposes officer to patrol

Written October 10th, 2021 by Hasso Hering

This pile of trash was left along the Dave Clark Path last week.

Trouble appears to be on the rise in Albany parks and on the park system’s trails. To try to get a handle on it, city officials are proposing to hire a park services officer to go on patrol and enforce the rules.

The proposal comes before the city council at its work session Monday afternoon (Oct. 11). And if the council agrees on Monday, the plan will be up for a vote during the regular meeting on Wednesday night.

Police Chief Marcia Harnden and Kim Lyddane, director of parks and recreation, say Albany ‘s 32 parks and 10 trails, totaling some 900 acres of recreation space, are increasingly plagued by graffiti, other vandalism, illegal dumping, and unauthorized camping.

The person in the proposed position would patrol the parks and trails to try to reduce the illegal activity. The officer would enforce park regulations and other city ordinances and would also respond to calls about goings-on in the parks, on the trails and at park facilities.

The employee would be represented by the police association. The job would cost the city an estimated $95,000 a year in pay and benefits, plus $24,000 for a utility truck, and $500 for uniforms and equipment.

Unlike other cities, Albany has so far avoided the pattern of massive homeless camps along public paths. But like others, I too have noticed an apparent increase in camps and dump sites , especially along the Dave Clark, Periwinkle Creek and Cox Creek paths.

It’s hard to see how a lone park officer could prevent or otherwise deal with all of that, but having a city employee on regular patrol should help. (hh)

A tent was pitched along the banks of Cox Creek on Sept. 8. It was gone a few days later.


11 responses to “Trouble in parks: City proposes officer to patrol”

  1. William Ayers says:

    Would this lone officer have to do it all alone? One would hope they could get assistance when needed. Hopefully their presence and ability to get back up would have the intended effect.
    The job without sufficient tools and authority would be a waste
    I hope they think this through to plan for success.

  2. Deborah Swenson says:

    I agree Hasso. That is too much for one person to keep an eye on alone. I applaud the idea. It certainly has merit. However, to my way of thinking it doesn’t go far enough to actually solve the issues. A great start, but more than one will need to be hired to patrol all of these areas, to actually effect any real change.

  3. CHEZZ says:

    Volunteers are needed for the parks system. Citizens that live near, or are already in the parks could sign up with the city, and report/video/have presence at the parks. A volunteer coordinator at Parks and Rec would interview and ‘hire’ the volunteer and receive the reports. Any activity of an urgent nature would be phoned in by the volunteer coordinator to the Parks Officer. The current Parks employees could also step up as a deterrent for trash. Often times, there are papers within the trash identifying the perp. Shoot a photo of the trash, (illegal dumping) and turn them in. We take pride in having open spaces for citizens to enjoy them in so many ways. Let us respond as a community to protect our park assets.

  4. Abe Cee says:

    Just use rubber bullets. Word will spread and they will leave the area.

  5. Russell says:

    I’ve been cleaning up trash alone for almost three years with a full time career. It’s a great start to this issue. If the officer is allowed to clean up sites with the utility truck, a lot can be done. I have let things slack a little just to give the city awareness on the Dave Clark trail. I called Parks and Recreation last week about the trash pile and it was supposed to be picked up by their crew. It’s slowly migrating awaiting pickup. I just know if you get the right person on the job that is allowed to do the right things, that person will make a huge difference. If I have to pick up that pile of trash, it will take me about half an hour and five minutes of planning; about an hour of my time.

  6. Carolee says:

    I think that is much too risky for one person to do this alone. Backup provides more safety and efficiency

  7. Bill Kapaun says:

    Some of the posters seem to think the city is going to hire a new marshal to “clean up the path”. single handedly? Get a grip!!!!

    Having someone document the repeat offenders so they can charged with increasingly severe penalties per offense is the way to go. Said penalties would be community service cleaning up paths, parks etc. When the penalty isn’t worth the crime, they’ll move to another city.

  8. Jim Engel says:

    Say what!. A dedicated Parks-n-Rec officer. For my 29+ years with APD I dealt with the Parks issue while on patrol! As did my fellow officers. We used a whack from our “night sticks”, a swift kick from our police issue boots, or what ever else to deal with scumbags! No problem come daylight! What’s with these sheeple of today?. That police chief we’ve got now is a real pussyfied, bend over backwards to accommodate, wizz! I didn’t know Chief Burkhart but from the original officers he was a “patrolman’s Police Chief” Awww geez: Pepper, Marina, Simon, Harden…it’s gone down hill!

  9. Mac says:

    Let not ignore the mess right in the middle of town around the overpass, hopefully this position will cover those areas too? In reality it should be up to the Helping Hands shelter to make sure their consumers aren’t allowed to create this mess. Then they should pay to have it cleaned up, not the tax payers.
    Hopefully this position isn’t being paid for out of the already weak parks and rec budget?

  10. Richard Vannice says:

    A problem that no one has addressed is “powers of arrest”. Under present law the “Parks Patrol Officer” would only be able to make an arrest, if it became necessary, under the “Citizens Arrest” statute. He/She would not have the same authority as a Sworn Officer which would require that that person attend the State’s Police Academy.
    It sounds like a step in the right direction but, in my opinion, more careful thought and planning need to go into this proposal. The council should not jump right in and OK this. There are some problems that need to be addressed and how they will be handled set out in a directive to the Park Officer and the Police Department.

  11. Frank Chavez says:

    With Gov Brown’s decriminalization of drug offenses and prosecutors not going after criminals committing major offenses or just doing their jobs, what makes anyone think that criminal element will follow the rules of discarding trash in the parks?


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