Drug addicts positioned outside a school and a daycare center in Portland, Oregon are causing children to be forced to play inside due to safety concerns, according to a recent report.
“Usually, I do mostly meth,” Violet, a local drug user who often smokes outside of the school, told NBC affiliate KGW. “And this area always has been known to be a heavy drug area,” she said, adding that “they shouldn’t have put a preschool right f—ing there.”
“We don’t want [the children] to be exposed to that because it’s their innocence that we’re defiling,” Violet added.
“Probably the next block is going to be over, and then, two blocks over are going to be the next spot soon,” Violet told KGW, explaining that drug users will find a different place to meet even if police move them away from the area near Saint James Lutheran Church on Southwest Jefferson and 10th Avenue.
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“I mean, that sucks, but this sucks too,” another drug user told the outlet about the problem on Portland streets. “They can move if they want, or they can help us get rid of the problem.”
“It’s untenable,” local parent Kelly Forsyth said. “We often will walk over needles with our kids. They’re within ten feet, you’ll see people shooting up, passed out.”
“It feels like my kids aren’t being set up well for their future,” Forsyth said.
KGW reported that the preschoolers have been told to play inside by teachers due to safety concerns about the surrounding neighborhood.
Some local police officers in Portland spoke out against the rampant drug use around the daycare and school. “It’s really concerning for me,” officer David Baer said of the scores of drug users around Saint James Lutheran Church. “I’ve been here a long time; nothing really seems to bother me anymore, but as a parent to a 2-year-old, I was like, ‘This is awful.’”
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“We want to be downtown. We want to spend time here. We want our kids to remain safe and do the things they like to do. I want the city to listen to us, and I want them to take action,” local parent Ryen Salo said.
The drug problems come as staffing at the Portland Police Bureau’s Central Precinct is down over 50%.
On a statewide level, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek directed OSP last fall to send some troopers to Portland to help local law enforcement track and bust fentanyl dealers.
Fentanyl started taking off in Oregon around 2018. Since then, overdose deaths attributed to synthetic opioids have surged 533% in Multnomah County, according to local health officials.
Public drug use is currently “not a crime” under Oregon law, KGW reported.
The office of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told Fox News Digital it was “aware of the concerns regarding the Park Blocks near the St. James Child Development Center, and Mayor Wheeler empathizes with the frustrations shared,” and laid out steps it had taken to address the issue, including the Portland Police Bureau and the Oregon State Police making “numerous points of contact with the folks near the site.”
“We are continuing to move forward immediate solutions both at the local level and through legislative action at the state level,” a spokesman said. “Through our engagement with parents at the school, St. James staff, and engaging with those loitering near the site, the Mayor’s office and our public safety partners have taken the following recent actions to address the problem:
- The Street Services Coordination Center removed numerous tents along the Daycare entrance and on Park this week and posted additional sites.
- This morning, staff from the Mayor’s office visited St. James during drop off hours and met with the daycare director and parents in-person after walking around the church and attached apartments.
- The Mayor’s staff have repeatedly engaged directly with people loitering near the entrance.
- The Portland Police Bureau and the Oregon State Police have made numerous points of contact with the folks near the site.
- The Mayor’s intent is that the 90-day Fentanyl Emergency (in-tandem with Multnomah County and the State of Oregon) will result in stronger, more responsive coordination with our public safety and behavioral health partners and ultimately durable solutions to sites like this one.
“It has to be noted that state laws do not prohibit public use and do not permit cities enacting laws to the contrary. Police are unable to make arrests without a crime. Mayor Wheeler will continue advocating that the Oregon State Legislature take swift action in changing drug use laws so that law enforcement has the tools they need to engage. This remains a top priority for our team.”
Fox News’ Hanna Ray Lambert contributed to this report.
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