Pendleton, Oregon

The population of Pendleton, OR, is a dynamic mix of ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic groups.

As the city evolved, the number of young residents who had family issues, substance abuse problems, and gang involvement grew, along with crime. Between 2005 and 2008, the rate of juvenile crime jumped by 48 percent.

To get a fresh perspective on how to address the problem, City Manager Larry Lehman assembled a team that spanned city departments, some of whom, such as libraries and the police, rarely worked together. What emerged was the vision of the library as the lynchpin to a solution.

In 2009, the city applied for and won an ICMA Public Library Innovation grant to start the Wired for Safety program.

The program’s mission, to create a safe and productive environment for teens and the community, called for a mix of technology (a citywide wireless network and surveillance equipment) and expanded services (programs for teens and community safety, including self defense, identity theft protection, and Internet safety).

Program classes and events served an estimated 929 people.

  • Police officers met with the library’s teen advisers. These interactions put a “human face” on the police, and teens reported feeling more comfortable with law enforcement officers.
  • The police held follow-up problem-solving sessions at the middle and high schools, extending the reach of the partnership.
  • Police staff also spoke at the library to young people and adults on topics such as Internet safety and identity theft. Additionally, a touch screen kiosk was set up in the library to make police and community safety information readily available at all times.

“Libraries are an invaluable resource to any community,” said Police Chief Stuart Roberts. “The police department was looking for a vehicle to provide public information and education in a non-threatening environment conducive to learning…what better place than the library?”

Meet the Manager

Larry Lehman

City Manager

Larry Lehman has served as city manager of Pendleton since 1993.