Bend Police Halt Parking-Lot Crash Responses

Hit-And-Run Victim Angry Over Lack of Help

POSTED: 7:26 AM PDT May 18, 2012    UPDATED: 8:38 AM PDT May 18, 2012 
BEND, Ore. -

Due to budget cuts, Bend police said Friday that they no longer will respond to most crashes in private parking lots. A Bend man said he's angry police won't follow up on his case after his truck was backed into, and the driver fled.

The damage to the man's truck may look minor, but it's the principle of the matter that's angering him. The man wished to remain anonymous, but wanted to tell his story.

"She (the police call-taker) referenced budget cuts in the Bend Police Department," the man said. "And she was being instructed not to respond to certain calls, one of them being mine."

The man said -- and police confirmed the information -- that he called police to report a hit-and-run.

He came out to the Fred Meyer parking lot after shopping, on Cinco De Mayo night. He said he found a note on his windshield. A witness wrote it, claiming she saw a woman in a van hit his brand-new truck and take off.

"Technically, it is a hit and run," said Bend Police Chief Jeff Sale. "But again, we have about 300 of those a year in parking lots. And with the amount of service calls that we get, this is one of those that we've decided we're going to stop doing."

Sale said people in Bend are used to calling the police and expecting an officer to show up, but now that's not necessarily the case.

Parking lot crashes were the first responses to be cut. They said the only exceptions would be those related to DUIIs and major crimes.

"Unfortunately, with the current budget situations that we have, the lack of additional money, and the fact that our service calls are going up 9 percent a year, something has to give," said Sale. "And that was one of the first things that had to give."

The hit-and-run victim said the most frustrating part was that he had all the information. He said he just wanted to talk to the woman so he could get a new bumper.

"I had the license plate number, the description of the vehicle, I probably had surveillance video from the Fred Meyer parking lot," he said. "I had everything. The police really didn't need to do anything. All they needed to do was contact that person by telephone and tell her to call me. Which they didn't do."

Bend police plan to make more changes to balance their budget. They'll be encouraging people to use online reporting on the city's Website. They're working on the feature right now and hope to have the service up and running in July.