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Threats draw police to code enforcement office

— Three police officers rushed to The Dalles City Hall Monday afternoon on a report that a man was threatening to get a gun and shoot the city codes enforcement officer.

It turned out not to be quite that dramatic. The man, who lives on the east side of town, was frustrated because he felt the city wasn’t doing something about neighbors he said were putting trash on his property and parking vehicles in front of his property.

“It was not a threat against her personally,” said City Attorney Gene Parker. “It was along the lines of ‘I’ve had enough.’”

He made a comment that “he was going to go get a gun and deal with this,” Parker said.

“Obviously, when we hear those kinds of threats we get concerned.”

Officers quickly determined the man, who is in his 60s, had not committed a crime.

The Dalles Police Chief Jay Waterbury said that by the time he and other officers got across the street to talk to the man, “He said, ‘Sorry I said that.’”

But it is highly unusual for city staff to even hear threats of that nature, according to Parker.

“We get people who are upset and angry, but to make a statement like that is always concerning,” he said.

The codes enforcement officer will from time to time ask an officer to accompany her when she’s worried a citizen will be unhappy with an enforcement action, he said.

Parker said the city did not notify the neighbors of the man’s threat because Parker didn’t believe the man “specifically named anyone. It was somewhat of a general threat. He was going to get a gun and solve the problem himself.”

Asked if he personally would want to know if a neighbor of his had made a threat like that, Parker, said, “obviously, if it’s you personally being threatened I guess you might want to know.”

But he said the city didn’t want to escalate the problem, and the city takes the neighbors’ safety seriously and has determined that the matter didn’t rise to the level to warrant notifying the neighbors. “We’re not concerned about it.”

The man had once before come to the codes enforcement office – which is in the same office as the city attorney – and made threats about getting a gun.

That time, Parker said, “I had to go out and basically ask him to leave because I was concerned about those behaviors.”

This latest time, Parker was in the office, but didn’t hear the man because he never raised his voice, although Parker could see that he was somewhat animated.

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