Police abatement process: 'We reserve those for the chronic problems'

EUGENE, Ore. -- Neighbors on a Springfield street are working with law enforcement to deal with the homeowner of what police call a "known drug house".

Shortly after Springfield Police raided the suspected drug house on 18th Street, neighbors hoped to draw attention to the issue by posting signs.

Police officials have since drafted a letter to homeowner Trevor Uehlin saying the city is looking into the "Abatement of Chronic Disorderly Property" ordinance, designed to keep problem homes out of residential areas.

Kelly Putnam is in charge of handling the abatement process in Eugene. She said abatements are a lengthy and often expensive process that can take years to kick troublesome neighbors off the block.

The City of Eugene starts the legal process if police are called out to the home for drugs, gambling or prostitution. Unlike Springfield, who issues an abatement notice after four police responses in 60 days, Eugene Police notify Putnam when they start to see a trend.

"We get an email from somebody in patrol saying 'hey, this is an address that we've been going to multiple times', or 'we've made multiple drug arrests'. At that point we would kind of start the abatement process," said Putnam.

Putnam said most of the abatement letters she sends out are from people renting a property. Generally the landlord evicts the tenant and the problem resolves itself, she said.

Officials encourage neighbors to call police whenever they suspect illegal criminal activity is next door. Putnam said Eugene Police can look back at a year's worth of records when starting the abatement process.

"We don't send an abatement letter to a property just because there was one drug arrest there, we reserve those for the chronic problems," said Putnam. "If we're going before a judge and ask him to kick somebody out of their house for a year, that judge is going to want to know that there is a really good reason why we are asking for that."