From The Editor

Fear and fact: Crime in Portland

“I’ve never seen the fear of crime in Portland higher than it is now…it’s even higher than crime itself!”

That statement came from Mark Wells, long a leader in the crime prevention program of the City of Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement, and which by emergency action of the City Council last summer is now suddenly the “Office of Community and Civic Life”, with a new name, much new staff, and many organizational changes.

But Wells is still there, and was a featured speaker at December’s General Meeting of SMILE, the Sellwood-Moreland Improvement League – which is not only the official neighborhood association for Sellwood and Westmoreland, but also is the oldest neighborhood association of the 95 in the city, having long-predated the start of the neighborhood system itself in Portland. If, as some fear, the city’s new de-emphasis of neighborhoods in our diverse city may lead to an end to the neighborhood system and the turning of Portland into a more generic city, SMILE by its nature will be one of the associations which will survive it.

What Wells was talking about appears to be the outcome of the “connected society”, in which social media spreads news, and also rumors, and fears – all of them taken as fact. The 14 fulltime staffmembers in the city’s crime prevention program find social media reports helpful when they tip police to emerging problems, and crimes that do not get reported – they but find it troublesome when incidents are blown out of proportion and fears and suspicions area reported as fact.

A prominent social source of useful information as well as considerable misinformation and fear has been identified as “Next Door”, an online tool based in San Francisco which limits its membership and participation to residents of specific neighborhoods; those who live in one can join the “Next Door” for that neighborhood only, and exchange comments and information with others in that neighborhood, but nobody not living in that neighborhood can have access to that section of “Next Door”. This has actually posed an obstacle to crime prevention personnel who monitor social media for crime tips, but who cannot access “Next Door” in most of the city.

An example of how online comments, reports, and rumors can spark excessive fear is shown by a telephone call received by your editor a year or two ago. The woman on the phone demanded to know why THE BEE was “ignoring the current crime wave” in her neighborhood. “What crime wave?” we asked. “We haven’t observed one in our own neighborhood, and you’re the first to mention one to us.”

She referred to numerous reports of petty and worse crimes spoken of on “Next Door”, and then said this call was prompted by a man who had just walked up her front walkway that day, then turned around and walked away before reaching her door. “Did he do anything bad there?” we asked. She said no; but he was unknown to her and had trespassed on her property. It all fit in with the “crime wave”.

So we asked where she lived. Turns out, she lived two blocks from us! No crime wave here. But she didn’t believe it.

Does that mean there is little or no crime in Inner Southeast? Certainly not. There is. It’s just not as bad as people think it is; in fact, petty crime has actually diminished in our own part of town over the forty years we’ve lived here.

Wells pointed out that the major cause of crime around here is drug addiction, and has been for quite a while. Addicts steal in order to finance a drug habit. The result is break-ins to cars (don’t leave anything of any potential value whatever visible in your car), and homes. Most are crimes of convenience: If it’s easy to do, they are done. If it’s harder, they usually aren’t.

Breaking into a car to steal something pawnable that’s visible inside is easy. Stealing a package off a porch is easy. Breaking into a house when the owners are likely elsewhere at work – particularly if the location is secluded, and the entrance is not easily visible – is easy. Burglarizing a house where residents have actually said on social media that they’d be out of town is especially easy!

As for you, when going out, locking your place and securing windows is easy. Locking your car and leaving nothing of any value visible inside is easy. Getting the many specific crime prevention reports and folders from the Crime Prevention Program at the Office of Community and Civic Life is easy – call 503/823-9333, and ask for them. Or go to –

The only thing easier than taking these precautions is doing nothing, and staying at risk.

Mark Wells is in charge of setting up volunteer Neighborhood Watches throughout the city, which are proven deterrents to crime, if properly set up, and with his free training. There are now 12 Neighborhood Watches in the Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood; there are 351 of them in the City of Portland. If you want to know more about setting one up on your block, call Mark Wells through 503/823-4064.

And Wells concluded his talk at SMILE by urging that all crimes be reported to the police, even minor ones. One of the meeting attendees admitted someone had stolen a bike from her recently, and she had not reported it because she doubted she would get it back. Wells said that she actually might, since the police recover a great many bicycles from thieves, but don’t know who to return them to. “Know the serial number and make of your bike, and report the theft!”

But even if you never do see it again, the police urge you to report any crime committed against you. This not only helps reallocate Portland’s understaffed police officers into areas where crime is occurring, but it gives the police a local pattern of crime which may lead to arrests.

How to report a crime? If it’s in progress or an immediate danger, call 9-1-1 and include why you think so, since that information will help get a response. If it’s a past crime, call “police non-emergency” at 503/823-3333 to report it. And if that seems like too much trouble, you can file a police report online 24 hours a day! That option has been around for years, but not many residents seem aware of it. You can do that at –

Don’t be afraid of living here! Find out how to protect yourself and your property; and report any crime against you that occurs. Stay safe out there!

Letters to the Editor
Air Raid Warden, Sellwood, World War 2, Southeast Portland, Oregon

Air Raid Warden in Sellwood


I would like to thank Dana Beck for the “Inner Southeast During WWII” history article. My father grew up in Sellwood in the 1920-40s, and I have just recently moved to beautiful Eastmoreland to retire.

In addition to the wartime Victory Gardens you mentioned, apparently ordinary civilians were also ready to engage in whatever duties were necessary in the event of an air raid. I thought you might enjoy seeing my grandmother’s official “Air Raid Warden” ID card from that time. It was fun to discover that a part of wartime Sellwood was entrusted to her.

Cece Cutsforth
S.E. 28th Avenue


Saddened by thrift store closing


I enjoyed browsing through Sam’s Attic thrift store [on S.E. 17th in Sellwood] so I was sad when I stopped by today [November 16] to see that it’s been closed. The sign on the door says they will be relocating, though as yet they have no new address. I think others would be interested, as I am, if you could find out more details and print a story. They supported a good cause with the store, and I’d like to continue to patronize their efforts. I have the sinking feeling the spot is the target for yet another big building to be developed. It would be interesting to learn what is going on.

Lisa Rowan
via e-mail 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Don’t yet know for sure, but our suspicion is that the property may be incorporated into space for the large apartment building planned for the west side of the block, which will replace the now-closed Penguin Pub and Goodwill Donation Center, as well as the large paved area, north to S.E. Tacoma Street.


Misplaced modifier found


The caption accompanying the photo of an alleged pot store thief on page 14 of the December issue of THE BEE amused me: “After exiting the smashed getaway car, a neighbor snapped this photo of a suspect as he ran away.” What was the neighbor doing in the getaway car? . .  My mother used to nail me for this exact grammatical error when I was a kid, so I am highly attuned to it. Anyway, thanks for the laugh.

Joe Dudman
S.E. Rex Street, Eastmoreland

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yep, misplaced modifier. I try to catch those. Missed that one. But you’re welcome!


New Storytime announced for Sellwood Library


The Sellwood-Westmoreland library is starting a new Storytime on Sundays for families who may not be able to attend Storytimes during the week. It occurs every second Sunday from 1 until 1:30 p.m. The next one is happening on December 9th. Below is a small description of the storytime:

Sunday Storytimes at Sellwood-Moreland Library invite children from birth to age 6, along with a favorite adult, to sing, dance, and enjoy stories. Don’t forget that it is every Second Sunday of each month all year, from 1 to 1:30 p.m.

Hue Lam-Sullivan
Information Services Library Assistant

Letters to the Editor may be submitted via e-mail by clicking HERE.

All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.

Susan Jean Swanson
Susan Jean Swanson

Susan Jean Swanson

February 13, 1947 – October 22, 2018

Susan Jean Swanson passed away on October 22nd at her home in Inner Southeast Portland alongside her loving husband and primary caregiver, Richard Swanson. She had been suffering the effects of ALS and dementia (FTD).

Sue was born in Columbus, Ohio, on February 13, 1947, to Dr. Thomas & Jean Clark, and she had four siblings. She graduated from Ohio’s Worthington High School, and the Riverside Whitecross School of Nursing.

On a road trip to California to attend the 1971 Rose Bowl featuring the Ohio State Buckeyes, Sue visited the Officer’s Club at Williams Air Force Base in Arizona, and was introduced to Richard Swanson. The two of them began to date, and later Sue and Rich married on April 28, 1973, in Beaverton, Oregon.

Sue was a longtime resident of Southeast Portland where she and Rich raised their family. The family characterizes her as “a dedicated mother, wife, and friend; many of her children’s friends referred to her as a ‘second mother’, and she was known for offering warm, welcoming hugs.”

Sue’s family commitment extended beyond her immediate family. She played an active role in her nieces, nephews, and grandchildren’s lives, and always found joy in her interactions with them. During family gatherings, while the adults remained at the meal table engaged in conversation, Sue would often be found with the children playing games and doing puzzles.

Her professional endeavors included being a registered nurse, a chocolatier, and a realtor.

She was an active member of her community in a variety of roles. At Trinity United Methodist Church, she helped establish the “Backpack Buddy” food program, which provides food to under-served children at neighborhood elementary schools. She also found time to serve as President of the Brooklyn Pre-School, President of Grout Elementary PTA, and in many other volunteer capacities involving her children’s activities. She and Rich continued to support their children in all their activities at Cleveland High School.

Sue is survived by her husband Richard; her daughter Ceri Cundiff (Mike); son Evan (Tina), three grandchildren; her brother Tom Clark; stepmother Margaret Miskimen, and half-sister Marjorie Gerczak. She was predeceased by her parents, her brother Ed, and her sister Carolyn Temes.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Sue’s honor can be made to the “Backpack Buddy Program” at Trinity United Methodist Church (mail a check payable to Trinity United Methodist Church, with “Backpack Buddy Program” in memo line).

The family wants to thank the ALS Association, and the many friends who visited and helped care for Sue during her battle with ALS. The family is especially grateful to Helen Taylor and her loving care. In tribute to Sue, the family encourages everyone to share a hug in her remembrance.


Comments? News tips?

Click here to e-mail us!

Note to readers: At some point, this, our original Internet website, will be replaced at this web address by our new website, as part of the Community Newspapers group. At that time, you will still be able to access this, our original -- and smartphone-friendly -- website, if you save this address: You'll still have your choice of which one to visit!