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Agreement follows debate over waterfront patrols

By RAELYNN RICARTE

News staff writer

May 27, 2006

Hood River City Councilor Ann Frodel told Police Chief Bruce Ludwig on Monday that she was “not comfortable” with his officers enforcing violations at the waterfront.

She said a telephone complaint over the handcuffing of a juvenile for jumping off the pier had fueled that discomfort.

“From the phone call that I had this week it was a fully packed day at the Event Site when this thing happened and it left a very negative comment to a lot of people,” Frodel said.

Ludwig expressed doubt that anyone had been taken into custody for that reason.

“I don’t know the facts in that particular incident but I doubt the arrest was for just jumping off the pier. However, enforcing the Hood River Port ordinances goes to the safety of the community” he said.

Later in the meeting, Ludwig clarified that the incident questioned by Frodel actually involved the citation of two females, ages 17 and 18, for underage drinking. He informed the council that his officers did not handcuff people for swimming in a restricted area.

“I highly recommend we do this because it does serve our entire community to erase the boundary (between city and port property) that’s invisible to most visitors,” said Ludwig.

At issue was the finalization of an agreement that would require the port to pay $50 per hour for security services. In addition, the port would cover any regular or overtime costs when an officer had to testify in court. The arrangement dealt only with infractions since officers are required by law to handle criminal and public safety matters.

“If it’s a life and limb issue we’re going to respond no matter what,” said Ludwig.

Although the waterfront sits within the city’s jurisdiction, the council believed the port should compensate officers for time spent there.

Frodel and Councilor Laurent Picard asked for a break in the proceedings to look over the conduct guidelines in Ordinance 22. The port adopted the provisions in 2003 and asked for city help to ensure compliance.

Both Frodel and Picard objected to enforcing some of the port rules when the council discussion reconvened. They believed allowances should be made to prohibitions against swimming in the Marina Boat Basin or around the Spit.

These areas were declared off-limits by the port to protect users from swift currents and the danger from long drag lines on kiteboards.

Picard said the council could appear to be endorsing the port regulations if it signed the agreement.

“Port employees can be appointed as peace officers for enforcement so it seems like we’re already covered,” he said.

However, Ludwig informed the council that an action that began as a violation could easily become a public safety problem.

Frodel and Picard then expressed concern that officers would be spending too much time patrolling the waterfront.

“It’s not as if we’re suddenly going to go down there and drop everything we’ll be doing for the city,” she said.

Ludwig said the police routinely prioritized calls for help to address the most critical needs first. He reiterated that policy would continue with the monitoring of waterfront activities.

“It’s our job to enforce those laws; not judge their merit,” he said. “And we’re going to bill them for every minute from the time the call comes in until we have finished up at the scene.”

Councilors Paul Blackburn and Martin Campos-Davis agreed with Ludwig’s assessment of the situation.

“I think it makes a lot of sense. If they need enforcement and we have enforcement a mile away, it just seems logical,” said Blackburn. “I’m not in favor of the port getting a free ride to have the chief’s security detail.”

“I think you (chief) do a good job and this is an opportunity for the city to provide one of the valuable services it has,” said Campos-Davis.

After a long debate, Frodel finally agreed to support the new agreement if the chief exercised “discretion with valor.” Picard also voted in favor of the plan, deferring to the recommendation from the lead law enforcement official.

Mayor Linda Streich, who supported the agreement, suggested that any concerns from council members be forwarded to the port for consideration.

Councilors Paul Cummings and Carrie Nelson were not present for the May 22 meeting.

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