Supper Club: Community Response Team

There’s a special team within the Bend Police Department who handle all of the mental health crisis calls, which can range anywhere from five to 15 calls a day.

For this week’s Supper Club, Central Oregon Daily’s Curtis Vogel sat down with the three officers to talk about their daily work on the front lines of the ongoing mental health crisis.

Thanks to Sergeant Elizabeth Lawrence, Officer Kecia Weaver and Officer Jake Chandler for joining us.

A special thanks to our Supper Club sponsors, Selco Community Credit Union, for giving us the time and resources to talk about the issues that impact our region every Tuesday night on Central Oregon Daily.

The Search for Sara Continues

It’s been nearly two months since Bend resident Sara Gomez was last seen, and even though the prime suspect in her disappearance is now dead, Sara’s family and friends continue to look for her.

Central Oregon Daily’s Austin Reed has been following this case from the beginning and caught up with the family today as they get ready for another search this weekend.

Bend police detectives are also still taking tips and hope to come up with any new clues in the case.

Increased Enforcement for Marijuana Grows

County Commissioners Hoping to Add Two New Enforcement Positions

After months of discussion with state, county and city officials the Deschutes County Commissioners made a first step today in addressing the ongoing issues with marijuana enforcement and regulations in Deschutes County.

County staff confirmed today that they will be looking into the hiring and funding of two new law enforcement positions as part of the Central Oregon Drug Enforcement team, known as CODE.
This was an idea proposed and supported by both County Commissioners and Bend City Councilors at a joint meeting held last week.

While CODE serves a tri-county area, these two positions would focus solely on enforcement in Deschutes County. The cost of hiring will likely be split, one going to the City of Bend for a police officer position and one would be a deputy sheriff position paid for by Deschutes County.

Commissioners also discussed raising the applications fees for marijuana grows in order to cover the cost of the extra time and effort county staff to deal with the complicated applications and the appeals that often follow.

Commissioners also floated the idea of putting a temporary pause on the processing of marijuana applications in order to clarify and fill in gaps in the current county code, but they are expected discuss those ideas in depth next week.

Explosion in NE Bend

Bend Police are investigating an explosion that rocked a northeast Bend neighborhood on Sunday night.

So far we known two residents of the home where life-flighted to a Portland burn unit Sunday night with third-degree burns. The Red Cross is currently helping the residents with housing assistance.

The home, located near the corner of Hidden Valley Drive and Weddell Street, sustained damage to the garage door and side yard. The damage was visible from the outside of the home and police have since posted that the home is unsafe to enter.

However, according to Central Oregon Daily’s Austin Reed, one resident of the home was allowed back into the house to collect some belongings and her dog, who was unharmed.

The Bend Police Department said they hope to release more information on what caused the explosion as the investigation progresses.

No other homes or people were impacted by the incident.

Ex-Boyfriend of Missing Woman Dies from Apparent Suicide

UPDATE MONDAY 11:34 A.M. – The Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office confirmed this morning that Bryan Michael Penner died at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend Monday morning at 8:11 a.m.

“Without the heroic efforts of Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Deputies, a Corrections Nurse, and Emergency Medical Technicians from the Bend Fire Department, Penner would have died last night at the jail.  The focused, competent, and heroic efforts of this team of dedicated and professional public servants gave Penner a fighting chance for life,” said Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel in a statement released Monday morning. 

 “We are thinking of Mr. Penner’s family,” said Corrections Captain Michael Shults in a statement. “Our staff are trained in the signs of suicide and suicide prevention.  Penner has been in the jail since February 22nd and showed no signs of being suicidal or having suicidal ideations.  After being evaluated by Sheriff’s Office mental health professionals, he was housed in a dorm setting.  Penner has been in the jail on ten occasions since 2007, most recently from December 11th, 2017 through January 6th, 2018, and has never shown any signs or indications of being a suicide risk.”

 Penner is the sole suspect in the disappearance of 24-year-old Sarah Gomez and, according to the District Attorney’s Office his death makes the search for her more challenging. 

“Unfortunately, as the search for Sarah extended from hours, to days, to weeks, it became obvious we are searching for her body and she will not be found alive,” said Hummel in his statement released Monday.  “With Penner’s passing our chances of quickly finding Sarah plummeted.  I encourage everyone in Deschutes County to report to law enforcement any suspicious tire tracks, earthen mounds, or other potential evidence they might see on their property.  Sarah’s family is counting on our community to bring her home.”

Authorities are still investigating the incident at the Deschutes County Jail on Sunday night that led to Penner’s death. According to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office 31-year-old Penner was taken to St. Charles Bend after another inmate found him unconscious.

Penner was arrested in connection with the disappearance of 24-year-old Sara Gomez and remains in custody on a Contempt of Court charge.
The Sheriff’s Office released this statement at 3 a.m. Monday morning. 

“On March 11, 2018, at about 8:40 pm, Inmate Bryan Michael Penner was discovered by another Inmate after an apparent suicide attempt in one of the jail housing units. The Inmate then alerted corrections staff. Corrections deputies and a corrections nurse responded and immediately began life-saving efforts, which continued until emergency medical personnel with the Bend Fire Department arrived. The Bend Fire Department has transported Penner to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.”

According to the press release Sheriff Nelson said he had requested the Oregon State Police lead this investigation and the Deschutes County Major Incident Team will assist.

Threat Prompts Precautions at St. Charles

Officials Increase Security After Threat From ER Patient

There was an increase of security patrols at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend on Thursday due to a threat made about a month ago by a patient in the ER. St. Charles safety department and police interviewed the man who made the threat for March 8th. They did not believe the person posed any risks, but he does have a 60-day no trespass order.

However, with security and hospital staff on high alert, a staff member did report a suspicious package at a bus stop outside of the hospital. The box was checked out by security staff and turned out to be a thermometer for concrete that was being poured as part of an ongoing construction project.

There was also a small dumpster fire reported at the hospital on Thursday, but according to St. Charles staff, that was put out within about ten minutes. Bend Fire happened to be at the hospital for unrelated reasons, which allowed to respond within minutes.

The Search for Sara Continues

Friends and Family of Missing Bend Woman Conducting Coordinated Search on East Side of Bend

Friends and family of Sara Gomez met at Big Sky Park at 8am on Saturday morning with a group of more than 50 volunteers to conduct a coordinated search for the missing 24-year-old woman.


Organizers showed the group a map of possible areas to search, and everyone broke up into teams to look in different areas.
Gomez was last seen on Monday, February 19, outside her workplace at Albertson’s in Bend, and Bend Police have been supervising searches at the Knott Landfill on the southeast side of Bend and have asked residents who live east of the intersection of Hamby and Ward to search their private properties for any possible evidence related to the disappearance of Gomez.

Bend Police Ask for Public’s Help in Search for Missing Bend Woman

On Thursday afternoon, Bend Police issued an update on the investigation into the disappearance of 24-year-old Bend resident Sara Gomez.
Investigators are asking residents who live east of Hamby and Ward roads to check their property for anything suspicious.
Here is the full release from Bend Police:

“During the course of this investigation, we have found information that has led detectives to believe there could be evidence related to Sara Gomez’s disappearance east of Bend. We are asking residents who live east of Hamby and Ward Roads to check their property for anything suspicious. We are asking to check abandoned structures, open fields, ponds and other water sources. We are asking for residents to check for tire tracks, shoe prints or anything out of the ordinary. If you find anything suspicious, please contact Bend Police Detectives at 541-693-6911.”

Bend Police Dept. is Hiring

New Recruitment Video Released

The City of Bend Police Department is currently hiring, and, like every other organization and business in Central Oregon, recruiters face a lot of challenges in the hiring process because of the disparity between the cost of living and wages.

Recruiters have to sell the Bend lifestyle and the philosophy of the department to give them an edge.
With that in mind, Bend Police released a recruitment video called “Balance of Bend.”
Special shout-out to Michelle Haynes Alvarado and the folks at Wahoo Films who produced the film.

Missing Bend Woman

Former Boyfriend Arrested for Kidnapping

Bend Police have made an arrest in connection with the disappearance of a 24-year-old Bend woman but so far, there is still no sign of her.
This all began when friends and family of a 24-year-old Sara Gomez starting posting messages on social media about her disappearance. All of this led to a missing persons report filed with Bend Police. Detectives interviewed Sara’s friends and family and their investigation led them to a former boyfriend named Bryan Penner. When Bend Police executed a search warrant at the 31-year-old’s apartment, they found enough evidence to arrest Penner.
Bend Police say they still don’t know Gomez’ whereabouts.
During Penner’s first appearance in court on Thursday, the judge set bail at $100,000.