Police establish station in downtown Eugene

EUGENE, Ore. - Years ago, the Eugene Police Department had a downtown substation near the bus terminal.

In moving the main police station across the Willamette River from City Hall to Country Club Road, the City vowed to restore a police presence downtown.

A block north of the bus mall, police are back in business.

It's a mini-downtown precinct for the nine officers that make up the Eugene police bicycle team.

The big benefit is logistics.

"What it will alleviate them having to do is ride their bicycles back and forth between the new police facility on Country Club and downtown," Lt. Eric Klinko said.

The City leased space on the first floor of Lane Community Colelge's new downtown campus. Police said the less time they are pedaling back and forth between headquarters and downtown to file reports, the more time the cops can be out on the beat.

"I think it shows that the Eugene Police Department is very, uh, takes its commitment very seriously to having the presence downtown," Klinko said.

A community service officer is also part of the staff at the downtown substation. Tonee Webber thinks they'll be dealing a lot with quality of life issues.

"If citizens don't feel safe coming down here, then we've got an issue and we need to work on that," said Webber, the police department's downtown manager.

The station won't have a full-time front counter staff, but Klinko said they will be open to the public Monday through Friday.

Businesses in the area are pleased.

"It'll make it a little more efficient," Walt Hunt at New Odyssey Juice and Java. "They are committed to having the bike officers and the patrols that we have down here, it's not going to change that really."

Tobi Sovak at Noisette said the police presence is welcome.

"The increased security is definitely needed and definitely welcome," Sovak said.

"We want people to be safe," Klinko, "to know that they're safe and to interact with our officers."