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Citizens Crime Commission Annual Luncheon brings attention to veterans homelessness

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On Wednesday, June 17, an impressive gathering of private business and organization leaders, law enforcement partners and social service providers came together to share a meal, and show support for the Citizens Crime Commission’s work. Building relationships and expanding networks, the lunch attendees represented the diverse areas of focus of the Crime Commission this year; business security, roots to crime, and advocating for a better justice system.

Our program highlighted a critical public safety issue; Portland’s high concentration of homeless veterans who are eligible for increased federal resources but are not accessing them, and the local efforts to combat this issue. The effort to end veteran homelessness by the end of this year demonstrates approaches that work to help people exit homelessness.

Guest Speakers

Cameron Smith, Director of the State Department of Veterans Affairs, was a compelling and effective speaker. He provided a statewide picture for veterans, many of them returning from multiple deployments to no job, no housing and fragmented support systems. He presented a video telling the story of a local homeless veteran who successfully got off the streets through the collaborative efforts of public and private partnerships.

Our speaker Jessica Borton, District Manager for Starbucks, provided a local business story of supporting veterans and how even the smallest effort can make a dramatic impact. We presented our Northwest Heroes award to Officer Parik Singh who received a standing ovation.

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Officer Singh and Crime Commission Chair Bill Barr

Officer Singh, 18 year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau, received the Medal of Honor award and the Police Star following an incident in 2011 when he was shot and seriously wounded by a suicidal man he was called to check on. He returned to duty after recovering and was the subject of local reporter’s heartwarming story of compassion and humanity.

Read the story by John Canzano that sparked Officer Singh’s nomination for this award. Officer Singh was completely humbled by the recognition and thanked us for the support of the work police are doing every day.