EUGENE, Ore. — Eugene police says there’s been a spike in criminal activity in downtown in the past week, including a police officer being assaulted.
In an attempt to increase its visibility, EPD parked its paddy wagon and a pickup truck downtown Tuesday afternoon. It had many passersby and businesses wondering what was going on.
EPD says it was simply crime prevention, but some of the department’s critics say it was all about politics.
EPD says an officer was injured on Friday night when he showed up to break up a fight, but it says the officers’ presence downtown Tuesday as nothing more than a reaction to the overall increase in crime they’ve seen in the last week, not because of the injured officer. The department’s critics say they aren’t buying it though.
“There was an assault here last weekend. It was legitimate assault. There was a man who ended up beating an officer and from what I can tell, it was pretty bad. However, there has been a lot of uptick in police enforcement lately. People see these huge vans here and they think that there’s something going on, and I think that that will add to their argument that they do need the exclusion zone and that we need to renew it for another two years,” said Eugene resident Alley Valkrie.
Sgt. Larry Crompton said their presence downtown has nothing to do whatsoever with the Downtown Exclusion Zone possibly ending in November.
“Nothing whatsoever. We’re just here because there was an increase in presence down here in the last several days,” Crompton said.
EPD would not say what condition the officer is in.
As for the downtown exclusion zone, the department has asked the city council to renew the ordinance. Councilors are scheduled to discuss the issue again in a few weeks.