PENDLETON, Ore. — Cheryl Kidd, the woman who shot and killed Eugene Police Officer Chris Kilcullen currently calls a secure residential treatment facility in Pendleton home. Despite protests from Kilcullen’s friends and family, Kidd was transferred there last month.
They’re not the only ones with concerns about the care she and her housemates are receiving in the community. At the Pendleton Cottages, Kidd has the possibility of supervised or unsupervised public outings, that have many questioning the safety for those living nearby.
For a time, inside the walls of the Episcopal Reedemer Church, a desk sat empty. “We met through another connection when she was looking for a place to volunteer because she was at a stage that made sense for her and we had a need for volunteers and so the two came together,” said Alison Dingle, interim rector Redeemer Episcopal Church.
Dingle said she didn’t really know anything about her new secretary until she was hired. “Well she was great with people. She was friendly, outgoing, welcoming. Her office skills were not what we thought they might be and see what her barriers to employment might be,” said Dingle.
Dingle’s volunteer was also a patient at Pendleton Cottages, a secure residential treatment facility serving mostly individuals deemed guilty except for insanity.
Patients at the cottages are cared for on an individual level with various treatments, some that even allow time off campus. A point of contention with city officials in what was originally a welcomed project following the closure of other similar facilities, resulting in a loss of around 300 jobs. “I think the only time that the line has kind of been drawn in the sand was around the conversation about the population being in the community unsupervised and the state dug their heels and probably rightfully so, and the city did as well,” said Chief Stuart Roberts, Pendleton Police Department.
“As it was put into place, initiated, the next thing we knew was we were having these folks in our libraries. I mean, they had freedoms in the community that we were a little more than stunned about,” said Mayor Phillip Houk.
Houk said he feels the city was misled. But, state staff say the possibility was made very clear to the facility opening via public discussions and reports.
In any case, they were stuck. “So, what we then did was take the other approach and work with them to make swure that we have as much information that they could legally provide us through the police department,” said Houk.
Pendleton’s police chief says staff met most of his requests including a secure fence and notifications about new patients, as well as those being released. Ultimately, everyone agrees a lot of trust is placed in the staff. “That’s why the whole system is so structured to provide that safeguard to make sure that folks are safe when they are able to be in the community,” said Dingle.
So, how does the surrounding community feel about having these patients here? Including those like Cheryl Kidd?
“I wasn’t aware of it. But, I can definitely see the advantage of letting them slowly back into the community and getting more used to life outside,” said Nicholas Ficenec, Pendleton resident..
“I think most of the general public were unaware albeit some attention to the subject some years ago, those who paid attention may have concerns, but none of those people have voiced that to me,” said Roberts.
“People are already kinda messed up who aren’t in there, so I’m not really concerned about it,” said Jasper Sabatino, Pendleton resident.
While there were a few concerned about these unsupervised visits, there’s only so much that can be done. “We had no private information about her. It was what she disclosed and my stance really in working with anyone is, who they are is who they are now. We have a choice or we can trust in the humanity of people in our communities,” said Dingle.
One way the board quantifies the efficiency of their decisions is through recidivism, meaning how often does someone under their care re-offend. While the overall recidivism rate is less than 1%, .88& to be exact, board members said there have been no reports of any client from Pendleton Cottages being convicted of a new crime.