Call leads to pot bust

The phone call for Campus Public Safety assistance came at eight minutes before midnight Monday, April 14. A resident manager of a College Housing Northwest residence hall on campus reported marijuana fumes permeating the building, even to the front door.

Officer Greg Marks had come on graveyard shift at 9 p.m. He hustled to the building, accompanied by Officer Steve Coop, who was working swing shift and was due to go off duty in eight minutes.

“I wound up staying ’til 4 a.m.,” Coop recalled.

In interviews the two officers then recounted their investigation of the report. Following their noses in the residence hall, the two officers converged on the second floor and one room. Through the door, they could hear people playing a video game.

They knocked and heard a male voice within say, “Oh, shit, the campus cops.”

Then, recalled the officers, Student X opened the door and said, “Hi.” The officers asked him if he knew what they were there for, and Coop asked, “Do you mind if we come in?”

Student X replied, “Sure, come in,” so they did.

Coop explained that in a situation like this, at midnight, officers try not to stand outside in a hallway questioning potential suspects.

Inside, they said, they found Student X and three other visitors. The officers observed four hookahs in the room, two of them being smoked. The officers asked for Ids, and the three visitors quickly produced theirs. Student X, however, told the officers he was unable to find his. He said he would need to go into his bedroom to find it.

As he opened the bedroom door a crack, the officers recalled that they saw the reflection of what they identified as the bluish glow of growing lights. The officers told Student X to come back out of the room and sit down.

Marks said he told the suspect, “We know what’s in there. Can we recover the goods or are we going to drag this out?” The officers phoned for the night sergeant, Robert McCleary, in the event they would require a search warrant. McCleary came, however, the officers say Student X consented to the officers entering the bedroom.

There they reported finding six growing marijuana plants in a closet and a 12-guage shotgun. Student X had drilled holes in the closet door and was venting the plants into the bedroom. The result was a pervasive odor, which Marks described as, “unique.”

“Once you smell it, you recognize it,” he said. “It smells like dewy, wet marijuana.”

At that point, McCleary and Coop had to leave to investigate a bicycle theft. Marks was left alone with four potential suspects. However, he did have two sets of handcuffs of his own and Coop left one of this sets. Marks handcuffed Student X and two of the visitors and told the third visitor to sit on his hands. McCleary and Coop eventually returned.

Student X was arrested for manufacturing, distributing and possession of a controlled substance, and was also cited for possession of a firearm in a public building.

From there it was cleanup work. The visitors were released, Student X was taken to CPSO and questioned, and Portland police responded and assisted in tagging and taking inventory of the evidence.

Student X, Marks recalled, said it was his first attempt at growing pot, Marks recalled, but offered to tell the officers the technique. His plants were described as being of various sizes, from starts to one large enough to require that its leaves be supported by strings. After questioning, Student X was transported to the Multnomah County Detention Center.

To Marks’ disappointment, the district attorney’s office informed him they were dismissing the charges on the grounds that the bedroom search was illegal. Thus, Student X was freed of all charges. Marks, however, said he is confident he can convince the district attorney’s office to reinstate the charges.

“It’s a good case, they gave consent to the search,” he said.