Police dealing with problems from homeless amid pandemic

MEDFORD, Ore. — Homelessness is a persistent problem on the Bear Creek Greenway.

And with more people living there than usual, police say some behavior has grown increasingly combative.

Camping or living on the greenway usually isn’t allowed.

However, because of the pandemic, the county wants anyone there to stay put to prevent any potential spread of coronavirus.

Police tell us their presence hasn’t decreased, but they are trying to arrest less people. That’s to minimize the risk of bringing someone to jail and spreading the virus to inmates or deputies.

“We’ve had reports of vandalism, robberies, disorderly behavior, assaults and so on,” said Sgt. Geoff Kirkpatrick, Medford Police Dept. “Some of the folks tell us that they understand that we’re not taking people to jail and we’re not enforcing prohibited camping, so they don’t have to listen to us.”

Sgt. Kirkpatrick says the amount of trash usually cleaned up by routine sweeps has also increased substantially.

He says it could take weeks to months to get rid of it all and they hope to resume cleanup efforts soon.

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