MEDFORD, Ore. — The Medford Police Livability Team on Monday served its second round of 72-hour prohibited camping notices to campsites along the Bear Creek Greenway, part of the city's ongoing effort to clear the area before fire danger levels reach critical mass.
MPD first posted the 72-hour notices at seven Greenway campsites last Monday. On Thursday, they began their initial enforcement of the new ordinance. Now the Livability Team is working on a second set of campsites.
“So today was kind of week two of us going out, actually posting camps under a prohibited camping ordinance. And so today we went out and we had identified some camps ahead of time and posted six or seven camps and started and started that process,” said Sergeant Geoff Kirkpatrick of the Medford Police Department.
Sergeant Kirkpatrick has been with the Medford Police Department for 19 years now. One of his many duties is running the Livability Team.
"Our Livability Team is a group of officers who deal strictly with issues of the city to include the Greenway, downtown, and our homeless issues,” Sergeant Kirkpatrick added.
Every week he and the rest of the Livability Team work with services such as Access, La Clinica, and Options for Southern Oregon to connect with those camping along the Greenway.
“In order to do this, you have to do it with empathy and compassion . . . so you have to have compassion for the people that you are serving, and the people that you work with, and the folks that we are having contact with on a daily basis,” Sergeant Kirkpatrick said.
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.
"Our goal is to get people into the services that are out there for them, the services that are out there for them, the available services to get them plugged in, get them working on the right track and taking responsibility for their own betterment and that really is our goal,” Sergeant Kirkpatrick continued.
One of the other goals of the new ordinance is to clear the Greenway of all potential fire hazards.
“It’s really vital to have the fire component because the Fire Marshal can articulate really well the fire dangers with each particular camp, so they go through and they are looking for fire issues specifically," Sergeant Kirkpatrick said.
The Deputy Fire Marshal with the Medford Fire Department accompanies the Livability Team on these initial visits to the campsites.
“There are multiple discarded cigarettes. There's a campfire where cooking has taken place and it's within a lot of vegetation. We know that once a fire ignites dry vegetation that's up close, next to it is going to really help spread that fire far," said Deputy Fire Marshal Mark Shay.