Police prepare to fine for public indecency

Should you decide to wander out of a bar in downtown Hood River at 2:30 a.m. and go to the bathroom in an area that is not designated as a restroom, say a wall, sidewalk or planter box, the Hood River Police have a $435 ticket with your name on it.

Responding to complaints from downtown businesses about disturbances on city streets after bars close downtown, the police department is adding a “catch all” to its downtown enforcement efforts.

The police have switched tactics this year. Previously they had been attempting to arrest and charge rowdies with disorderly conduct. However, that statute did not always apply to lesser offenses, such as public urination.

“Years ago we would arrest people on disorderly conduct…I wanted to get away from that; I didn’t see the need to arrest someone for it but they needed to be accountable for that,” Hood River Police Chief Neal Holste said.

The strategy was also expensive and time consuming for the police department, having to transport suspects to NORCOR.

For less belligerent offenses, the police will now be issuing citations for public indecency, a city code violation misdemeanor.

However, those who are more belligerent, are causing property damage or are too intoxicated to still be out on the street will still likely get a trip to NORCOR.

“It’s sort of a catch-all,” Holste said of the public indecency ordinance.

The public indecency section of the Hood River City code, section 9.20.10, states that “No person shall, while in, or in view of place, perform: An act of sexual intercourse; An act of exposing their sex organs, or the areola of the female mamma; An act of urination or defecation, except in toilets provided for that purpose.”

Holste said he doesn’t think there have that many more instances of disorderly conduct or indecency this year, but that it is simply being noticed more.

Holste said that from May to September of last year there were 16 reports filed in the department for disorderly conduct. From May to July 25 of this year there have been 15.

Holste’s ultimate goal through the public indecency citations, beyond forcing accountability, is to track where people are being over-served with alcohol.

He said that as police make citations for public indecency they will be asking where the perpetrator consumed their alcohol.

“My goal behind this is, we are going to talk to these people about where they were consuming their alcohol and track it back,” he said. “The goal behind is to make licensees accountable for their patrons.”

Holste added that police are also partnering with OLCC for possible follow-up on the state’s end, as well.

With more than 100 liquor licensees in the downtown area, Holste said it’s time for the issue to be addressed.

“We’ve just started to kick this out full force,” he said of the public indecency citations.

“Let’s start enforcing this and taking control of it.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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