Mayor Sam Adams
and Police Chief Mike Reese
walked the beat Friday night with members of the Q Patrol, a newly formed citizen brigade hoping to curb attacks on the LGTBQ community in Old Town and entertainment districts in Portland
The mayor and chief joined the group of uniformed police officers, Q Patrol members in their signature orange vests and members of the community to spotlight the patrol that formed in response to a wave of anti-gay attacks, especially a spate over Memorial Day weekend
. The group currently has 100 volunteers to walk in five- to eight-person squads every Friday and Saturday night armed with flashlights, cell phones and digital cameras. Members aren't allowed to use physical force to stop altercations, and spokesman Stephen Cassell says that's not their intent anyway.
“Our purpose is not to stop drinking or having a good time,” he says. “Our job is to de-escalate dangerous situations.”
Cassell notes that women have called on the Q Patrol in recent weeks to escort them to taxis or away from danger.
Portland has always had neighborhood watch groups, but the Q Patrol is the first to target bias crime assaults in conjunction with the police. Reese said that in addition to district officers, the area around 2nd
Avenue and Couch St. has a special entertainment district patrol consisting of five officers and a sergeant.
“We do everything we can with police to keep people safe,” Adams says. “When we combine with citizens, it's an unbeatable combination.”
For more information on Q Patrol, contact the Q Center at 503-234-7837.