BEND, OR -- Two recent bicycle gatherings have some Bend residents questioning why the events were allowed to disrupt traffic and, in one case, display public nudity. Bend Police Chief Jim Porter says the department knew about both the Freedom Ride on the Fourth of July, and last Saturday's Naked Bike Ride in advance, but neither was sanctioned by the city. "We have no one coming forward and applying, ‘Can we have a permit to do this? We are an organized body; I’m the President of the organization, I’m the spokesman.’ We have no one [doing] that. This is a loosely organized group of individuals who decide to do something at the same time."
He doesn’t feel the lack of permit is enough to break up a relatively peaceful event. The Freedom Ride occurred on what Chief Porter says was his agency's busiest day of the year. Of the more than 400 calls for service Bend PD received on the Fourth, 90 came in during the Freedom Ride. Chief Porter tells KBND News, "Of those 90 calls, only 16 were related to the Freedom Ride; of those 16, three of them were duplicates. So, in actuality, we only had 13 and when you talk about having 3,000-5,000 people taking a ride through town or taking over certain areas, we’re not inclined to go in there and start making arrests. Now, do we? Yes. At times, we’ve had to go in and make arrests for altercations, for intoxicated driving." He adds, "We do not have enough staffing at Bend Police Department to wade into a crowd of 3,000 to 5,000 people and make arrests. And, what is the outcome of that? Are we causing more problems by making these minor arrests than we are by allowing it to run its route for 45 minutes to an hour and go away? I don’t think people want the Bend Police Department to cause more problems than exist."
About 50 people participated in Saturday’s Naked Bike Ride and Chief Porter says there were only a couple of complaints called in from bystanders. Because Oregon doesn't have a "public indecency" statute, there were no arrests made.
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