Pubdate: Tue, 06 Dec 2005
Source: Statesman Journal (Salem, OR)
Copyright: 2005 Statesman Journal
Author: Cara Roberts Murez
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)


Results Of A Recent Survey Lead To Ideas For Improvements

Bill Mathis has lived in the Southeast Salem Neighborhood Association 
area for 33 years. His small, white, vintage home has been 
burglarized only once, about 30 years ago. Mathis said he knows how 
lucky he is as he pointed out a house down the street that has been 
hit 15 to 20 times and another that was broken into four or five times.

SESNA's reputation has spurred No Meth -- Not in My Neighborhood 
efforts to improve this area of 2,639 households. The grass-roots 
group wants to work with community organizations to start an 
afterschool peer-mentoring program for youths or expand a similar 
South Salem High School program. Members also want to expand on a 
Neighborhood Watch program in that area to stem the property crime 
that often is a byproduct of the meth problem.

"What I am hoping is that the neighbors will realize the strengths 
that they have in the neighborhood," said Page Merrill, a program 
specialist for No Meth, "and unite to make their places better and 
safer places to live."

In September, volunteers surveyed 150 SESNA households about 
methamphetamine as the first step toward getting residents involved 
in helping themselves. Based on survey results and other research, No 
Meth came up with the two ideas for improvement that staff members and

volunteers are working on now."Anything's better than nothing," said 
Mathis, 58. "I think both those things, getting on people's cases, 
keeping your eyes open."

Although Mathis no longer is involved in Neighborhood Watch, he keeps 
his eyes on people who walk up the street outside his house. He 
thinks he can spot meth users based on their thinness and 
deteriorated appearance. Continuous action by police also would make 
a difference in the neighborhood's safety, Mathis said.

Although SESNA's reputation has not caught up, data suggest that the 
neighborhood has made strides in improving itself, even without No 
Meth's help. Analysis of half-year crime stats in 1998, 1999, 2000 
and 2001 showed as much as double-digit decreases in crime rates in 
SESNA. In 2002 and 2003, crime jumped back up by 18.4 percent and 34 
percent, respectively, but rates dropped again in 2004. Through 
September 2005, crime has dropped 20.8 percent. The early decreases 
were attributed to increased community policing and a Neighborhood 
Response Effort that got residents involved in efforts to deter crime.

The increases likely happened as methamphetamine became a more 
serious problem in Salem, said Rob Gould, the president of the 
neighborhood association. Gould said that the recent decreases 
happened as No Meth began getting the word out, Salem police 
increased its anti-meth efforts and Marion County commissioners 
designated jail beds for property-crime offenders.

"I think the price we pay for meth is the constant vigilance we do," 
said Gould, who has lived in the SESNA area for 20 years.

In the recent No Meth survey, at least 42 percent of responders said 
that more education for neighbors and youths, availability of 
treatment, prevention efforts, park patrols, police officers and 
neighborhood watch involvement were definitely needed.

Linda Louise Doerfler, 52, who has lived in her parents' Richmond 
Avenue house off and on for 45 years, is involved in Neighborhood 
Watch and said she would welcome increased efforts. Although two 
houses across the street once appeared to be drug houses, she said, 
those residents are gone now and the immediate neighborhood seems safe.

"We have a strong Neighborhood Watch on Richmond Avenue, and we work 
at it constantly," Doerfler said. "We monitor everyone that's walking 
down the street."

More than half of the people surveyed had been affected by meth or 
related crimes. About 29 percent had talked to neighbors about the 
problem, 26 percent called police, 16 percent reported garbage on 
neighbors' property and 14 percent reported a suspected drug house. 
About one-third said they had done nothing to respond to the problem. 
Six percent said they had avoided the problem or kept to themselves.

"I think if the crime rate gets to the point that they become 
victims," Doerfler said, "then they'll get involved."


No Meth -- Not in My Neighborhood says it doesn't plan to stop with 
its efforts to improve the Southeast Salem Neighborhood Association area.

Members of the grass-roots group plan to continue the focus on 
helping neighborhoods reduce meth problems by surveying and working 
in other areas.

The next two likely areas are in West Salem and Keizer.

The surveys are not scientific.
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MAP posted-by: Beth