This crack den cost only $150,000!
  • This crack den cost only $150,000!
The Portland Tribune unveiled a slightly (or, rather, very) heavy-handed story today about a crack epidemic in Old Town. A lot of it was derived from a predawn tour of the rough-and-tumble neighborhood led by Officer Daryl Turner, the Portland Police Association president.

Early on in the piece, Turner pissed all over one of my favorite things: the Portland Loo, the public toilets Randy Leonard has put up in four places around downtown and the Pearl. (Later, Turner also seemed to take a shi..., er, shot at MAX, saying that trains running through Old Town also offer a haven for drug deals.)

“This is Crack Alley, and that’s Randy Leonard’s crack house right there,” Turner says, pointing to the public restroom designed and championed by City Commissioner Leonard on Glisan Street near Sixth Avenue. Turner, who patrolled Old Town for four years until becoming president of the Portland Police Association labor union last summer, says that Leonard’s Portland Loo is a favorite nighttime destination for drug dealers and prostitutes, who conduct their business behind its closed door.

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Leonard responded to the story here, over in the WW. Leonard has long championed the Loos—designed so cops can see in them—as a humane means of eliminating other problems, like public peeing. I spoke with police bureau spokeswoman Lt. Kelli Sheffer and asked if there were any numbers to back up the idea that Loos are crime magnets. There aren't, she says, mostly because arrest numbers don't get that specific: The Loo doesn't have an address, so there's no way to separate it from the rest of the block.

"To say that the bathroom is the real problem, no. It's not," she says. "We're always going to have folks who are going find dark places to use their drugs and do their crimes." As for the Loos, "there are many advantages to having them."

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