Springfield Justice Center to Hold First Open House

Nate Gartrell, EDN

The new Springfield Justice Center will host its first-ever open house on Saturday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and provide tours, refreshments, and general crime prevention information to the public.

The Springfield Justice Center, located at 230 Fourth St.

Tana Steers, a community service officer with the Springfield police, said that the event is intended not just to inform the public, but also to offer gratitude for the facility, which was built after voters approved funding its construction.

“We want to let the community know what they have provided, and to thank them for providing us with this wonderful building,” Steers said.

Steers, who works in crime prevention, also said that the tours given during the open house would be more detailed than typical ones that are routinely given at the Springfield Justice Center. For example, the open house will have three K-9 exhibitions which will include demonstrations of “attack” commands.

“They’ll usually have an officer dressed up in the ‘bite arm’ and actually let the dog take a bite on the arm,” Steers said. She added, with a laugh, “…on the padding, of course.”

Steers said there was a definite need in Springfield for the event’s emphasis on preventing crimes, although she said that crime in the city hasn’t been particularly worse in 2011 than in recent years.

“We’ll have lots of crime prevention information available,” Steers said. “We’ll also have a couple classes – one on personal safety, one on home security, and gangs and drugs.”

The most recent information on crime statistics available through the City of Springfield’s website shows that, in 2008, Springfield had the highest property crime rate in Oregon, and the fourth-highest violent crime rate, despite being ranked ninth overall in population.

Police Chief Jerry Smith, and McGruff the Crime Dog, will both be at the open house. Photo courtesy of Tana Steers

Additionally, Steers pointed to certain types of crimes, such as identity theft, which are currently on the rise both regionally and nationally.

“Identity theft will probably be with us for awhile,” Steers said. “We want to educate people what precautions they can take.”

Springfield Police Chief Jerry Smith will also host a Q&A during the event, as Steers said Smith would be there to answer any questions from members of the community.

The four-hour open house will be partially paid for through the Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association, a private non-profit group, and also through the educational portion of the Springfield Police Department’s budget, according the Steers.

Additionally, said Steers, drug dealers will pay for part of the event (indirectly, of course), since police are allowed to use money seized during drug busts to pay for anti-drug campaigns.

“A lot of our crime prevention information and brochures, and even some giveaways, come from the drug forfeiture fund,” Steers said. “If it has a drug prevention message on it, then we can use that fund for it.”

The Springfield Justice Center, located at 230 Fourth St. in Springfield, was built after voters passed Measure 20-91 in 2004, which provided $28.65 million dollars to fund the justice center’s construction. The local John Hyland Construction Inc. built the facility, which came in under budget at $24 million.