Editor's Note: We are aware of the potential impact to public health as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 / Coronavirus situation. We are providing a summary of the March monthly meeting presentations in an effort to ensure that those who were not able to attend - for whatever reason - may still benefit from the information presented.
March 13, 2020 - KFDA held its March Monthly Network meeting this past Wednesday at the South Portal building at 205 Riverside Drive. Attendees heard two presentations from local organization leaders. Following is a summary of those presentations.
Klamath Basin Youth Without Borders
Klamath Basin Youth Without Borders (KBYWB) is a local youth organization that strives to introduce local teens to other cultures through travel and participation in service projects tied to Habitat for Humanity's "Global Village" program.
Taylor Hampton, KBYWB president, provided an overview of the organization and presented a plan for an upcoming service project that would involve Downtown businesses. The project, slated for this coming fall, would consist of a scavenger hunt in the Downtown area, with the goal of introducing local teens to our Downtown and assisting them in their efforts to travel abroad. An overview of the plan (distributed at the meeting) is available below. KFDA will coordinate KBYWB as the planning progresses to connect Downtown businesses with the opportunity to participate.
Klamath Falls Police Department
City of Klamath Falls Police Chief David Henslee met with the group to discuss a variety of items related to public safety. Prior to the presentation, KFDA President Nic Phair thanked Chief Henslee for his service to Klamath Falls and once again recognized him as the 2017 recipient of the IHeartKFalls award, an annual award given to a local citizen who exemplifies the IHeartKFalls spirit in their community work (Chief Henslee was presented with the customary Hydroflask bottle when the award was presented, but KFDA in 2018 began awarding an additional crystal award for display. To maintain consistency and solidify the IHeartKFalls as a perennial award, KFDA retroactively had a crystal award prepared for the award's inaugural recipient).
Given the Downtown-specific audience, Chief Henslee reported some crime data for Downtown that is very encouraging. Of particular interest, calls for service related to crime in the Downtown area have decreased by 59%. Additionally, he reported that those calls for service are now more frequently officer-initiated than reported by the public, which is a reversal of past trends. He did recognize that, although the rate of crime has decreased, there are still "hotspots" where some Downtown visitors continue to disregard the expectations of acceptable social behavior, or are flat out violating the law. In a continued effort to bolster his department's toolbox, he outlined some new City ordinances that are in the process of being developed:
The new ordinances will be presented to City Council for deliberation in the next few months.
Also discussed was the changing perception in the Downtown area related to the anti-social behavior displayed by a small number of Downtown regulars. There have been reports of some uncomfortable - and frankly, down right rude - interactions with these people, and Chief Henslee wants to make sure that Downtown stakeholders know how they can prevent these interactions and what to do if they occur. First, it is important that businesses and property owners aren't inviting these people to their premises. There are several Downtown businesses who provide free snacks, coffee, or ice water to their customers which attracts non-customers, some of whom may be the same individuals displaying anti-social behaviors. Chief Henslee recommends that, if your business offers this to customers as a convenience or a "perk", it should not be available in a common area to simply anyone who walks in. Additionally, make sure that your premises are well lit (especially in less commonly used building exposures) and that you don't have any alcoves or hidden areas that would encourage someone to sit for long periods of time or worse, provide a hidden place for illegal activity. If possible, security cameras are also an effective deterrent and can be helpful in investigating any incidents at surrounding properties.
Chief Henslee also recommends that people use everyday common sense when walking in the Downtown area - don't walk alone, use some type of light if walking after dark, always have a cell phone with you, etc. And finally, should you witness any illegal activity or face a confrontation that makes you uncomfortable in any way, dial 911. Chief Henslee emphasized that his department now has tools in place (for example, the Enhanced Law Enforcement Area and a contract with the Klamath County Jail) that allows them to, in some cases, make an arrest and transport individuals who don't want to follow the law. "The only way we can do anything is if we hear about it. It's simple - dial 911".
It was also noted that, given the recent spring-like weather, he has restarted the seasonal foot patrols in the Downtown area, as the activity described above tends to pick up with better weather. Chief Henslee indicated that his officers have certain metrics to meet with respect to contact with businesses, and asked in return that Downtown employees make an effort to contact his officers when they walk by even if it means, "running to the door and going outside to catch them and say 'hi' or 'thank you'!"
In closing his presentation, Chief Henslee thanked the residents and businesses in Klamath Falls and Downtown specifically for being vigilant in helping his department. "It's a community effort, and you are all a part of the team. I can see the pride in this community, and I thank you for making it such a great place."
KFDA's next Monthly Network Meeting will be April 8. Visit our Facebook page regularly for details.