Police: Leaving greenway campers alone “isn’t an option”

Jackson County, Ore. – Wednesday night’s sweep of the Bear Creek Greenway netted multiple arrests–including an arson suspect.

According to Medford Police, as the illegal camping sweep got started, they were met with a fire on the greenway near Barnett Road. The fire was just one of four that occurred in the last 24 hours.

61-year-old Stephen Melton was arrested for the latest fire, and police say he may have started more.

MPD said eight additional people were arrested for outstanding warrants and 30 more were cited for prohibited camping.

Police also recovered a stolen baby stroller and other property stolen from local little league fields.

Officers had to deal with an “enormous amount of trash” that they’re continuing to clean up. MPD said it’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away.

Police said they sometimes receive criticism for the sweeps, which take place several times per year. But according to MPD, ignoring the problem “isn’t an option.”

“It would create a toll on the environment, as well as a significantly safety issue to the folks using the bike path,” MPD wrote. “We do our best to provide campers with resources to help get them out of the situation, but ultimately it will be something they will have to want to do. We cannot force them.

Police said they will continue their efforts to keep the greenway safe.

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