Willamette week online
By Angela Valdez
A national title loan company is paying the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office thousands of dollars to stake out a North Portland bar and grill known for its all-you-can-eat spaghetti specials, home-style breakfasts and dedicated keno players.
The owner of the Sweet Home Bar and Grill on North Lombard Street thinks the unusual arrangement is aimed at scuttling his business. Northwest Title Loan, a business that offers high-interest loans in exchange for vehicle titles, forks over $74 an hour, 45 hours a week, to keep an armed, off-duty officer in a cruiser outside the bar next door. The title company says it had concerns about disorderly, inebriated customers.
But bar owner Dennis Frank thinks his working-class clientele isn't a bunch of rowdy drunks, and that the company wants him to break his lease and leave the shared lot, opening up more room for parking.
Northwest Title told Portland police, who worked the detail for the first two weeks of July before the sheriff's office took over, that bar patrons were backing their cars into the building and intimidating customers. Asked to elaborate, the company's general counsel, Michael Reed, said the company's president observed money changing hands in the parking lot and thought he'd seen a drug deal. "What else could it be?" Reed says.
Although it may come as a surprise, both the Sheriff's Office and the Portland Police Bureau offer their cruisers and officers for contract jobs. Huh??The service usually is bought for short-term events, like film shoots, or by municipalities that lack their own patrols.
Let me see if I have this straight...
Now it is not uncommon for off-duty police officers to make extra money a security guards, etc.
It is also not uncommon for agencies to "rent" vehicles for movie productions and commercials.
However, I have never heard of an agency "loaning or providing" a patrol cruiser so that an off-duty officer can make money.
The other point, an official police cruiser is being used by an off-duty police officer, which means that that cruiser is off-duty and the public does not know that. All that the public sees is that a police officer hanging out in one location all day long and not doing their job.
Law enforcement agencies constantly complain about bad publicity, I think this is one good example of bad publicity and that bad use of public equipment.