A SOLSTICE/CHRISTMAS DIGNITY VILLAGE UPDATE
The Village has had to call the police in to deal with problems recently, and Vera Katz' response and Dignity Village response to her is at the end of the update.
A SOLSTICE/CHRISTMAS SEASON UPDATE
December 21, 2001
Hello dear supporters,
Well, it's been an interesting and challenging past
few months. There was the difficult decision to stay at Sunderland, a couple of hostile Oregonian editorials and one op-ed response, a series of difficult removals of
longer-term residents at the Village requiring a
string of 911 calls to police for back-up, and the police releasing the 911 list to our supporters in City Hall, which resulted in:
a) a warning letter from the city, and
b)a somewhat unfavorable article in the Oregonian about
it all. (most articles can be viewed on website at
Copies of the city's "warning letter" and responses by
me and Jack Tafari
(new Chairman of the DV Council) are provided below
for your reference*.
This is to appraise all supporters about positive
steps the Village has taken recently to meet these challenges and address related issues:
1) We're scheduling a meeting soon after Christmas
with Commander Foxworth and Lt. Babnick of NE Precinct to strategize about how to reduce 911 calls
and improve relations with police in NE Precinct,
2) An internal village committee was formed on Tuesday
to draft a formal policy regarding security procedures,
ejections/removals, enforcement of rules, etc. that is also consistent with related
sections of the corporate
3) Oregon Law Center did a presentation and Q&A with
the Village Council
this Wednesday to review and clarify legal issues
related to enforcement of rules, ejections/removals, etc.
In spite of all the fuss and fury, Dignity Village
lives on! Construction of the common area is nearly completed (big thanks to City Repair for all
their work on it!), final bylaws have been adopted, a
new Council and slate of officers have been elected, papers are signed for filing with IRS for 501c3 status, and construction of a hot shower facility at DV is underway.
We offer thanks to all supporters who helped these
On behalf of Dignity Village, I extend warm and
heartfelt appreciation to all supporters who, each in their own way, have contributed to the survival
and ongoing success of the village. May the blessings
you have extended to the village be returned to you one-hundred fold.
Happy Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate this season.
****'warning letter' from the city*******
December 14, 2001
To: Dignity Villagers and Supporters
From: Mayor Vera Katz, Commissioner Eric Sten
Re: Public Safety at Dignity Village
We have reviewed recent police reports indicating
incidences of public drunkenness, domestic violence, noise and harassment over the last couple
of months at Dignity Village. These reports raise
serious concerns regarding the ability of the Village to maintain public order. Dignity Village and its supporters need to take aggressive steps to address these
Dignity Village's mission statement clearly identifies
creating a safe place for homeless people as the Village's top priority. The City Council's support for the Village is predicated on the assumption that the Village
remaining free of violence and alcohol. If these types
of illegal activities continue, we will be forced to conclude that this experiment has not succeeded.
Community policing is founded on the notion that it is
easier to prevent problems from happening than to deal with them after they have happened. As a nascent community, we strongly encourage Dignity Village and its supporters to embrace this principal and do everything possible to prevent
future problems at the Village.
Vera Katz Erik Sten
*****John H.'s response to the Mayor and City
December 17, 2001
Dear Mayor Katz and Commissioner Sten,
I'm a community organizer working with Dignity
Village. This is to express my personal gratitude for the city's concern about public safety at Dignity
Village, and for your call for a more proactive
"community policing" approach to avoiding similar problems in the future.
Your concern is certainly shared by me, and I believe, by the newly elected Dignity Village Council, corporate officers, and security team, as well. This memo only
reflects my personal observations and is not an
official response from Dignity Village, Inc. The newly elected President of Dignity Village, Mr. Jack Tafari, is aware of the situation and will no doubt be in contact with
My observation is that the police reports in question
reflect several contributing factors:
1) It certainly reflects DV Security's commitment to
maintaining a safe and secure site, free of violence, drugs and alcohol.
When problems arise at the village, rather than attempting to deal with violence-prone individuals through vigilantism and mob rule, the police have been called regularly by
DV security to back up security with these matters.
Village Security is well trained in non-violence, but is unarmed and unauthorized to use force of any kind to enforce village rules related to public safety. Therefore,
the involvement of the police is required to maintain
a safe and crime-free village environment.
2) Another contributing factor is that a handful of
residents have recently been ejected from the village due to non-compliance with their Admittance Agreement (generally related to violence, threats of
violence, and creating disturbances due to coming into the village intoxicated). Several of these
ejections have been traumatic and disruptive for the
village because some involved longer-term residents with well-established relationships within the village. Nevertheless, the rules were upheld and residents were held
accountable to bring their behavior in line with
village rules, or be ejected. If anything, the village deserves to be congratulated, rather than ridiculed or criticized, for their courageous efforts to maintain a
safe and secure environment.
3) On the DV side, the police reports reflect a need
for much clearer internal village policies to clarity
a) who is authorized to place 911 calls to NE Precinct,
b) under what circumstances such calls are to be made, and c) expectations of non-security residents when police are
on-site. Steps are under way internally to develop
policies to clarify appropriate lines of communication and resident responsibilities whenever the police are contacted or are on-site. Once this policy is drafted, we
plan to forward a copy to NE Precinct, the Mayor's
office, and Commissioner Sten's office, so hopefully we will all be working together towards the same end -- maintaining a safe, crime-free, and secure village environment.
4) Finally, the police reports also seem to point to a
need for some more formal written agreement with NE Precinct, similar to the one DV had with NW Precinct when the village was on NW Savier St., and which worked pretty
well by all accounts. It is important to note that DV
had similar issues with NW Precinct prior to creating a formal protocol, but once the protocol was in place, such problems dramatically decreased both in frequency and in
severity. Creating such a protocol with NE Precinct
seems self-evidently needed and is very much in keeping with the spirit of Mayor Katz's and Commissioner Sten's letter, calling for a community policing approach to
deal with these issues more proactively.
Given the seriousness of these concerns, it seems
clear that a meeting with all concerned parties is needed asap to reaffirm the commitment of all parties to a more proactive community policing approach, as called for in
your letter. I expect that you will be contacted
soon by the appropriate corporate officer representing the village to arrange for a meeting of concerned parties asap to discuss next steps. Again, thank you for raising
these issues and for your concern with the safety and
security of the village. Please feel free to contact me anytime at 503-295-7747 or at < firstname.lastname@example.org> if I can be of any assistance.
John Hubbird, community organizer
Dignity Village/Sisters of the Road - Community
********Jack Tafari's response to the Mayor and
December 18, 2001
To: Mayor Vera Katz, Commissioner Eric Sten
From: Jack Tafari, chairman, Dignity Village Inc
Re: Safety concerns at Dignity Village
Thank you for your letter of December 14, 2001, your
concerns regarding safety issues at the village are
duly noted and are shared by our board of directors,
council and membership, your point about preventive
community policing is well taken. Security and the
best and most effective ways of dealing with recent
problems are high on the agenda of tomorrow night's
council meeting. We have had problems with people
returning to the village intoxicated and becoming
unruly, noise complaints from our neighbours caused by
this behaviour. We have also had to eject individuals
who have broken our rules against violence and who
then continue to harass our village and our
membership. Violence, domestic and otherwise, is not
something we take lightly, drug and alcohol use on
site, of course, we do not allow.
We feel the best way to deal with these problems is to
clarify our relationship with the N E Precinct and to
clearly define areas of responsibility within the
village in matters of safety and security. To this end
we wish to set up a meeting between our security
coordinator, Crime Prevention manager Art Hendricks,
Commander Foxworth, and Lt. Babnick to review our good
neighbour policy/protocol agreement. We hope that in
this way we can address the City's concerns and take a
more proactive approach in preventing the kinds of
problems we have recently had.
Cc: Marshall Runkel Cc: John Hubbird
add a comment on this article