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MEDFORD, Ore. -- The Medford Police Livability Team began posting 72-hour prohibited camping notices at campsites along the Bear Creek Greenway on Monday. On Thursday, they began their initial enforcement of the new ordinance.
The notices were delivered to seven campsites, primarily in the area around I-5 near Exit 30. According to Medford Police, this area was prioritized for several reasons — because the thick vegetation in the area poses a big potential fire risk, and due to two recent murders.
“This was an area that was posted on Monday. The Livability team came out on Monday posted under the new prohibited camping ordinance and made contact with the individuals living in these tents here and started connecting them with services,” said Deputy Chief Trevor Arnold with the Medford Police Department.
Arnold started with the Medford Police Department in 1998. He has been the Deputy Chief since Monday.
On Monday, services such as Access, La Clinica, and Options of Southern Oregon went out with the Livability Team to connect with those camping along the Greenway.
The City said that members of MPD's Livability Team and other organizations will continue to work with campers over that 72-hour period in an effort to connect them with shelters and services.
“It's feels good, right? I mean, we're, we're accomplishing what the public wants, that the Greenway becomes a usable space again — for families, for people to recreate," Arnold said. "That we're actually getting people to connect with services and, and there are spaces in shelters. Sometimes it just takes that hand of us really connecting people."
Arnold added that everyone MPD connected with on Monday has been engaged in services and moved into a shelter prior to Thursday’s cleanup. He also added that no one was arrested or forcibly moved during the cleanup.
“I think for me, the ultimate goal would be that, there's no camping. There's no one camping along the Greenway. So it's a usable space for everyone . . . that everyone who's currently camping out there or living out there either connects with family, links with some type of services, gets into some type of shelter, transitional housing,” Arnold said.
Following those outreach efforts, crews began the clean-up. MPD got help from Medford Parks, Public Works, ODOT, and Rogue Retreat Clean Sweeps to restore the area "as close to its original condition as possible." Crews removed sixty yards of trash and debris, hauling them away in dumpsters donated by Rogue Disposal.
The larger process of cleaning up the Greenway and enforcing the ordinance is expected to take "weeks, possibly months," the City said. Next week, the process will begin all over again, until the entire Medford section of Bear Creek has been cleared.