Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston wants more local businesses to sign up for a program that would give his officers the right to stop people of interest found on their property.

The project, called the Trespass Enforcement Agreement, gives officers the ability to act as a “person in charge” of the property during non-business hours. Edmiston said the program is one more tool for the department to combat commercial property crime.

“They did this in Pendleton and saw a 65 percent drop in commercial burglaries in just the first year,” Edmiston said. “This would give us the green light to be the representative of the property for them. This agreement would provide our officers the ability to stop a reasonably suspicious person on a commercial premises after hours to inquire about why they are on the property.”

Edmiston said, currently, approximately 30 businesses are signed up for the program, but he wants to double that number this year.

The chief said while he would still encourage businesses to retain the services of private security if they choose and install cameras and other deterrents, signing up for the program provides one more level of protection.

“I would never discourage anyone from hiring additional help,” Edmiston said. “The truth is, we can’t be everywhere at all times. The additional security features help us do our job. We just want businesses to sign up for this as even more security. I would encourage people to use any legal means to protect their property.”

Business owners who want to sign up are encouraged to contact Community Watch and Crime Prevention Officer Erica Sandoval at 541-667-5112 for more information.

Businesses will be provided a bright yellow placard for display to indicate their participation in the program.

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