City of Medford will consider homeless court

MEDFORD, Ore. — More security is coming to downtown Medford and the Bear Creek Greenway with the help of a project that’s been in the works for over a year. The ‘Livability Team’ will devote more resources to those areas and crack down on criminal behavior in those areas.

The five-person team would have three police officers, a code enforcement officer, and a records specialist. Medford Police Department said the officers will help link the homeless with local resources.

“We hope to have 5k’s down there, farmers markets, runs,” said Deputy Chief Scott Clauson.

Clauson said it was approved by the city council last month and will have officers on bicycles, foot patrol, and even an ATV on loan from Jackson County parks.

“They’re doing enforcement and they’re also bringing the non-profits and the faith-based organizations together to coordinate an effort for the homeless,” Clauson said.

Clauson said in addition to connecting the homeless with resources, the city is looking at potentially creating a homeless court.  He said that would help break down some of the barriers the homeless face.

“A lot of them don’t have an opportunity to take a shower or get cleaned up before they see a judge so we know that’s a barrier for those folks so as a result of that they often don’t take care of there fines,” he said.

Clauson and a Medford city attorney will be traveling to San Diego next week. The southern California city holds its special court in a homeless shelter to resolve misdemeanor offenses and warrants.

“We actually think it would be great to have a homeless court,” said Matt Vorderstrasse, Rogue Retreat.

Vorderstrasse said illegal camping is one of the biggest issues they run into on the greenway.

“It makes sense for us to be able to have a place where they could go to enroll in a court program that would help them manage those fines but then also provide resources to them to help them get networked into other resources,” he said.

The end goal – helping people get off the streets and creating a safer downtown and greenway.

“A place where people can come and exercise and bring their families down and walk there dogs so this just step one of that whole vision process,” Clauson said.

The city said to fund the city’s livability team, Medford residents will see a $2 increase on their utility bill. Medford Police said they’re currently working on getting job applications ready.

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