Police start process to kick man out of alleged drug house
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - Springfield Police say it seems like the neighbors living across the street from a known drug house are doing all the right things.
On Saturday, Erin and Riley Smith took to pen and paper and posted signs in their front yard.
"There is no room for drug dealers here. Let our kids be kids," one of the signs read.
Smith, who's lived in his home for 12 years, says the criminal activity is getting worse.
"I come out here and they're doing junky business at 8:30 in the morning when I'm taking my son to school," Erin Smith says. "That is not okay."
She says she called Springfield Police last Thursday, the same day Oregon State Police served a drug warrant on the home in the 200 Block of 18th Street.
Police arrested Trevor Nicholas Uehlin and charged him with unlawful possession of methamphetamine, unlawful distribution of methamphetamine and felon in possession of a firearm.
Uehlin was lodged in the Lane County Jail around noon, but was released on Sunday, May 25.
"I want him out of the house," Riley Smith says. "He belongs in jail. I shouldn't have to be put in this position where I have to feel like I'm under attack."
Since 2010, Uehlin has been arrested and violated parole 22-times.
Since the beginning of 2013, Springfield Police Community Service Officer Tana Steers says they've responded to Uehlin's residence 20 times.
According to police records, he is the owner of his home; he does not rent.
Several other neighbors have followed the Smiths, posting signs in their front yards.
"How many of us neighbors have to put up signs? How many of us have to stand here? How loud do we have to get?" Smith says. "How many times do we have to go to the abatement office? How many city councilors do I have to call?"
On Tuesday, Springfield Police began drafting a Disorderly Property Ordinance, step one in beginning to legally seize Uehlin's home.
Steers says they gather response information, incident reports and search warrants related to the home.
She says they then see what meets requirements stated in Springfield's "Abatement of Chronic Disorderly Property."
Steers says Thursday's raid is a primary reason the letter is being written.
"Under Statue 12: possession, manufacture, or delivery of a controlled substance or related offenses is what we are looking at," she says.
Steers says the Chief was to look at the ordinance Tuesday night.
She says he will ultimately make the decision whether or not to send this letter to Uehlin.
Springfield Police Sgt. Russ Boring says the neighbors are making the right moves.
"The things that they want to see happen, the process has started," Sgt. Boring says. "It's going in the right direction."
Boring says he spoke with Uehlin Tuesday morning.
"He acknowledged that there was activity going on and people were coming and going from his house and that the neighbors have a legitimate complaint."
Boring says he explained to Uehlin that because of the activity going on at his residence, the city can and has the right to seize the property.
He says it would be labeled as a nuisance property.
Neighbors say they want him gone and behind bars.
Lane County Sheriff's Sergeant Carrie Carver says each time a person comes in to the Lane County Jail, they're put in a tough position.
"Pre-Trial Services makes the decision who's going to walk out the door for over capacity," Carver says.
She says they use the Risk Assessment Tool to calculate how violent an offender is. If the suspect scores low, they will likely be released.
Carver says Pre-Trail Service looks at a suspects past convictions and history.
"If you see someone with those types of charges getting out of jail, that means the 256 other people in the Lane County Jail rated more dangerous than that person."
She says although it looks like Uehlin has been lodged in the Lane County and Springfield Jails 22 times, a large number of the logs are parole violations.
She says person on person crimes, like assaults, harassment and manslaughter are more likely to keep people in jail than drug charges.
Offenders like Uehlin will likely be offered alternative programs, like road and work crews to serve their time.
She says he's skipped a number of those community service work days.
Carver says since Lane County voters passed the jail levy last year, the number of capacity-based releases have dropped significantly.
"Everybody's life is impacted differently by crime," Carver says. "As long as (neighbors) are law-abiding, they can express their frustrations."
Sgt. Boring says if the property ordinance is approved by the Chief, it will likely be mailed to Uehlin.
If Uehlin fails to sign for it, police will deliver the notice.
"It's a slow process," Boring says. "He knows we're watching him, everyone's watching him. He will be on his best behavior."