Portland police patrol the sidewalks around the downtown Washington Center complex 24 hours a day to get rid of a fentanyl market that had grown up around a vacant property owned by one of Portland’s wealthiest real estate families.
On Monday afternoon, 10 April 2023, uniformed police officers replaced the crowds of people selling and using drugs around the buildings.
At the corner of Southwest 4th Avenue and Washington Street, a police car was parked under the awning while officers walked the block.
The Menashe family runs the businesses that own the two buildings that makeup Washington Center. It has become one of the most popular places in the city to buy and use drugs. People had broken the windows of the old KeyBank branch and moved in.
“The Washington Center building continues to be a top public safety concern and priority for our team,” said mayor’s office spokesman Cody Bowman.
“Given the extreme conditions at this property, Mayor Wheeler and the Portland Police Bureau have dedicated resources to help restore safety.”
After WW’s first story on March 22, the Menashes boarded up the large windows at the KeyBank branch, but people still gathered in the covered plazas on the south side of the complex. A 25-year-old woman died at the site on March 31 after taking too much of the drug.’
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After that death, the complex and its condition got a lot of attention from the media. Today, even Gov. Tina Kotek had something to say. Officers have been on duty around the clock in recent days.
“The Mayor/Police Commissioner has allotted funding and asked PPB to try to fill overtime for a 24/7 walking beat,” Lt. Nathan Sheppard said in an email today.
Barry Menashe, 69, is the founder of Menashe Properties. His daughter, Lauren Menashe, didn’t respond immediately to an email asking her thoughts on what the police did.
Wheeler’s office said they have not decided how long the patrols will last. “Timeline is under discussion,” Bowman said in an email.
Shane Dixon Kavanaugh also retweeted this news from his official Twitter handle-
"Portland police are patrolling the sidewalks around the Washington Center complex downtown 24 hours a day to extinguish the fentanyl market that had grew up around a vacant property owned by one of Portland’s wealthiest real estate families."https://t.co/w6ik2SRFBj
— Shane Dixon Kavanaugh (@shanedkavanaugh) April 11, 2023
PPB Sgt. Susan Billard, one of the officers patrolling Washington Center, said the police had been making arrests for fentanyl, including a “significant” one today of a man with several bags of pills in “just about every pocket” and “lots and lots of cash.”
Billard said that she thought people hung out at this site because it was abandoned and offered shelter from the rain and privacy from three sides.
“There’s no legitimate customer base here,” Billard said in an interview. “There’s no one that’s actually trying to use a doorway. When you have an abandoned building, this is what happens.
If we could occupy this building and get businesses back here, that would be a huge step forward.”