Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler announced he was reconstituting the police bureau’s entertainment detail at a press conference Tuesday at Kell’s Irish Restaurant and Pub in downtown. As part of Wheeler’s Safer Summer PDX gun violence reduction initiative, Wheeler also said several streets downtown will be closed to vehicle traffic on weekend nights.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, the crowds in Old Town have returned by the tens of thousands,” Wheeler said. “What we’re actually going to do is close lanes and streets to give people the elbow room that they need to move around more freely.”
The team, made up of six officers and one sergeant, focuses on nightlife downtown and was disbanded during the pandemic.
Wheeler was joined by Portland Police Capt. Jim Crooker, Community Safety Division Director Mike Myers and local business owners.
Concerns about crime and the unhoused population are the reason business owners downtown hired Echelon private security in 2021, sparking controversy over the group’s invasive tactics and lack of oversight.
“Empty sidewalks and empty storefronts beget bad behavior,” Society Hotel owner Jesse Burke said. “It tells others we’re not paying attention.”
The new detail starts Thursday.