I called it in February. Not that it was a hard bet to make.
Mayor Sam Adams, meeting yesterday with Old Town and Chinatown neighbors over complaints about rampant drug crime in the area, finally announced a new plan to tackle the issue that, at first blush, looks a lot like a re-institution of the drug-free zones that city leaders abandoned years ago amid racial profiling concerns.
The plan will, however, look more like Adams' still-unenforced (and still controversial) gun-crime exclusion zones. The mayor, confirming what the Oregonian reported last night, will ask Multnomah County judges to place special conditions on drug-crime probationers—including keeping them out of areas that have a denser concentration of drug crimes.
"This is post-conviction," Adams told me after a MARATHON city council meeting today, echoing remarks he said when the gun plan was proposed last fall. Previous drug- and prostitution-free zones had no such provision, meaning cops could willy-nilly harass people, most of them, by far, black. Not this time, Adams says: "This is not your grandmother's or grandfather's Drug Free Zone."
In two key departures from the gun plan, the mayor also will ask the Portland City Council to approve new cash so the district attorney's office can afford to devote a prosecutor to drug cases. The county has faced cutbacks, reducing prosecutions—a budget reality that has been felt on the streets. And a conviction-based approach is pretty worthless without convictions.
Portland cops also will ask for the right to enforce probation conditions in hot spot areas, much like, Randy Leonard tells me, they can do out on 82nd Avenue for prostitution cases. Adams says treatment can be written into the conditions of the parole, and could affect the terms of an exclusion order.
But then Leonard—who joined Adams in discussing the program outside council and was among the commissioners who helped kill the previous exclusion zones—invoked three of the most divisive words you an utter in social services circles: Service Coordination Team, aka the treatment/enforcement program targeted for using a "secret list" of offenders.
"That's all this is," Leonard says. "I've always supported this approach." Obviously, we'll be following this as we learn more.