Ask APD May 19

Q: I tried to report to an officer that I was being harassed by my neighbor and they told me that it wasn't a crime. I don't like the things that my neighbor is saying to me, why can't I report this?

A: There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the crime of Harassment (ORS 166.065). Many people believe that it pertains to verbal harassment.

However, the primary use of this statute by Law Enforcement occurs when someone pushes, shoves or touches another person and does not cause injury. The statute states that a crime is committed when a person intentionally "harasses or annoys another person" by "subjecting such other person to offensive physical contact."

There is a section of the statute that prohibits "publicly insulting such other person by abusive words or gestures in a manner intended and likely to provoke a violent response." I have never seen a case that meets the criteria for harassment when only verbal insults are involved. When I worked in Portland there was a sidewalk preacher that used to yell at people every day, saying really horrible things about the women walking by. He was "publicly insulting" people with "abusive words" but the people he was insulting were free to walk away and the courts upheld his first amendment right to free speech.

It seems that it would have to be a very specific and very extreme case of insults to meet the criteria of "provoking a violent response." It can be very frustrating to have someone insulting you, especially where you live. Most of the time these people are the same as any bully, just looking for a reaction. Just remember that you can act like an adult even if they can't.

Don't ever let it escalate to a situation where you are touching the person insulting you. This will often result in you being arrested when the person insulting you pursues a harassment charge. I recently arrested a person for harassment after they became upset with someone who was yelling and pointing at them. The arrested person said it best, "I could have just walked away."

Q: What is a fix-it ticket?

A: You may receive a fix-it ticket when an officer writes a traffic citation for a violation such as a burned-out taillight or expired registration. By giving you a fix-it ticket the officer is allowing you an opportunity to fix the problem, show an officer that you have done so and have the ticket dismissed. There will usually be a white sticker placed on the back of your citation if it is a fix-it ticket that will need to be signed by an officer after they are shown the violation has been corrected.

Have a question? Send it to APD Anonymous Tip Line 552-2333.

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