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Oregon County Sheriff... Out of money....

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by BTPost, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Citizens take law into own hands after cash-strapped Ore. county guts sheriff's office

    When budget woes reduced the sheriff's department in one rural Oregon county to a bare-bones force, residents decided to take matters into their own hands -- creating armed patrol groups in defiance of local officials.

    Their decision has raised safety concerns with the county government, which would prefer residents instead hike their own taxes to fund the hiring of trained deputies. But despite the risks, the move stands as a unique, some would say innovative, response to one of the country's most severe local budget crunches.

    The government in Josephine County, where nearly 70 percent of the land is owned by the U.S. government, had long relied on federal timber subsidies to pay the bills. When the feds terminated the funds, county officials scrambled to pass a May 2012 tax levy to make up a nearly $7.5 million budget shortfall.

    However, the county's residents voted against the levy, and as a result the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office was gutted. The major crimes unit closed, dozens of prisoners were released from the county jail and the department reduced operations to Monday-Friday, eight hours a day.

    The Sheriff’s Office then issued a press release announcing their deputies would only be responding to what they deemed “life-threatening situations.”

    Ken Selig -- who was the longest-serving law enforcement officer in all three local agencies when he was forced to retire from the department due to cuts -- told FoxNews.com he found the sheriff’s declaration unacceptable. And he felt compelled to guard his community’s vulnerable members.

    “Who else is going to protect you when your government can't?” Selig said.

    Selig and his friend Pete Scaglione formed the North Valley Community Watch, a county-wide organization dedicated to helping citizens in non-life-threatening situations, primarily property crimes. It is one of a handful of community groups that have formed since the cuts. Without a robust Sheriff's Office, their mission is broader than the typical neighborhood watch group.

    Not only did the Sheriff's Office narrow its scope to "life-threatening" situations, but it even encouraged people who felt unsafe to relocate. “... the Sheriff's Office regretfully advises that, if you know you are in a potentially volatile situation (for example, you are a protected person in a restraining order that you believe the respondent may violate), you may want to consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services,” the original release stated.

    Selig's community watch group, looking to fill in the law enforcement cracks, now meets once a month to discuss crime and teach its approximately 100 members about personal safety. The group also has a trained “response team,” which consists of 12 people who will respond to the scene of a reported non-life-threatening situation if called.

    Though the “response team” members do carry legal firearms, Selig said the team’s main goal is to provide a deterrent presence, and that none of them have ever fired a shot. He said those involved in his group believe there is no substitute for well-trained law enforcement, but they feel they have no other choice but to protect their community.

    “We believe responsible citizens doing responsible things make it hard for criminals to do irresponsible things,” he said.

    Selig believes politics are behind the county government’s decision to not funnel what funds they do have toward law enforcement. He says the county government seems to be pressuring the citizens to pass an additional tax hike they cannot afford.

    “The key is to get the funding somewhere where the local people can get the services they need,” Selig said.

    However, Josephine County Commissioner Keith Heck said residents of the county that opposed the tax levy need to realize there is no fat to cut.

    Heck said the county has tried to live within the bounds of its fiscal realities, but citizens need to realize the options for paying for law enforcement are limited. "The county coffers are at the bottom of the barrel," he said.

    Heck said though he supports neighborhood watch groups and citizens being vigilant in their community, the rise of increasingly “aggressive” community watch groups make him worried the situation could escalate to violence. Watch groups have been under increasing scrutiny nationally ever since the George Zimmerman case in Florida.

    “These things seem good on the PR side but fail a little in the reality side,” Heck said.

    Heck said the only real solution is for the county citizens to approve more funds.

    “There is this little shimmer out there of some giant Santa that is going to come and drop all this money on us because we are well-meaning folks,” he said. “The sleigh is broken, the deer are dead, it’s not going to happen. We have to figure out how we are going to solve this problem.”

    @PaxMentis I think this is your county.....

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  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    I like it that the community is taking responsibility for itself. Doing law enforcement, even if sorta unguided, will lead to cooperation on other things.
  3. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    It seems like a reversion to the days of the 'wild' west where communities basically looked after their own, and the local sheriff provided a fig leaf of legality to sort out things once the dust had settled.
  4. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

  5. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    All the original Law Enforcement ever did was collect the Bodies, and chase after the Perps once they were Identified. The Posse supplied the "Muscle" when it was needed, and they brought their OWN weapons. The Sheriff just replaced any Ammunition used, at the Counties expense, and the Grub, the Posse ate, if they were out over 24 hours. Rural Law Enforcement could go back to such, a senerio, very easily, even today. Dispatched Deputy needs some backup, out on a call, so he goes to the local neighbors, and deputizes a couple of the Old Boys, to watch his back, while he conducts his business. Then releases them once things are settled. Saves the county a Pile of Tax Money, and the Regular Folks know that they are responsible for their OWN Safety, for the first 3 or 4 hours, after they call 911, to report an incident. This how Bush Alaska Law Enforcement works. The ones that has to get with the program, is the local County Attorney. He has to learn that Folks need to be able to Protect themselves, until the Deputy arrives, and not go off and start prosecuting everyone for doing so. Of course if he/she is Elected, just like the sheriff is, then he/she either gets with the Program, or they will be a One Term'er...... Here in Alaska, the ONLY Elected State Law Enforcement Officer, is the Governor. All the rest are Statutory Law Enforcement, created by the Legislature, and controlled by the Governor and his Administration. even the Attorney Genera, in appointed, and serves at the Governor's Pleasure, as do ALL Law Enforcement, in the State.
    The BIG Debate in Alaska Law Enforcement, today is, if we are gong to allow VPSOs (Village Public Safety Officers) to be Armed, while On Duty. In some specific instances they do have Arrest Powers, but by Statute, they can NOT be Armed, while on Official Business. (Duty) They were created as the local "Eyes and Ears" of the Troopers, in each village, that wasn't large enough to need a Resident Trooper. The Troopers are stationed in the Larger Towns, and then fly out, to collect the Bodies, as required, collect Evidence, and make out the Reports. VPSO's just report to their Trooper, who supervises maybe 5 or 6 of them, in their area of responsibility. Now the VPSO's want to be Armed for their OWN Safety, and it is of some concern to the other village residents, in many villages.

    .... YMMV.....
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  6. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey Site Supporter

  7. Airtime

    Airtime Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    The state of Indiana has lots of volunteer LEOs that are sworn, have full arrest powers and are armed. Most counties have reserve deputies who go through training and must work some minimum (I think it's like two shifts per month). They are provided regular uniforms, weapons, etc. Several city departments also have reserved officer corps. And then there are town marshalls for the tiny incorporated communities. State law requires they have a police force but many can not afford one. They may have a chief and volunteer officers. The training for town marshals and reserve officers is sanctioned thru the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and generally a full time deputy or more in a county is certified to provide it locally to the reserve deputies and town marshals. It's something like 100 hours (about like EMT training but of law enforcement flavor). Seems to work fairly well. The primary issue some departments or communities have with the reserve office program is full time officers sometimes oppose the use of volunteers in leu of themselves getting overtime hours. Reserves are often called out for special events like the county fair and for disaster LE services.

  8. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    Speaking of the 'wild' west, I always get a kick out how people like to think it was so uncivilized back then, with shootouts and such. I don't think it was like Hollywood portrays it. My view is that if you're surrounded by people you know can and will cap your sorry a$$ if you step out of line, you're very unlikely to do it unless you're trying for a leaden Darwinian Award(so there was very little actual need for violence, people knew better). People should be responsible for their own safety anyway, and quit expecting everyone else to do it.
  9. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King Site Supporter

    It is my county and the sheriff is a friend.

    Besides having a very large "off the tax base" tract of "federal land", we are also a very geographically large county. In the north and SW areas of the county, the response time for a deputy was frequently over an hour when we had the offsetting funds. In many areas (including mine), while we were mostly self-policing before, this "change" has actually improved things because even the California transplants are conscious of the fact that they must be responsible and have either joined the neighborhood watch or (at least) know the number to call if they need help from their neighbors or observe suspicious activity.

    Sheriff's Patrol is a joke at best in a county as large and sparsely populated as ours…and really only provided a false sense of security for the recent immigrants. Sheriff Gilbertson has taken the budget he has and focused it on the jail, where we recently reopened 30 beds.
  10. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Sounds quite a bit, like they formed militia, in time of need.....just like the Second Amendment requires.
  11. Tyler Danann

    Tyler Danann Monkey

  12. Sojourn

    Sojourn Monkey

    When the citizens take over their own security and that of their neighbors.... they will be safe. Other than that, we will live under an oppresive regime bent on making us their subjects.
  13. Gopherman

    Gopherman Sometimes I Wish I Could Go Back to Sleep Site Supporter++

    This is what happens when we give away the farm!! You end up starving cause' you can't feed yourself!!
    Welfare, medicaid, food stamps, 2 years worth of un-employment benefits, etc.. you can't keep giving away more than you take in, the Math just doesn't work (and for the Liberals out there, Don't give me that Crap about new Math)!!
    Sojourn likes this.
  14. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King Site Supporter

    I'm not sure of your point here…

    In a county of 1600+ sq miles and a population density of about 50 per sq mi (actually effectively substantially less, since about half the population is in the 11 sq mi city of Grants Pass with it's own police and fire), this is the most realistic and effective method of policing. As a property owner here (with an assessed property value about 8-10 times what we actually paid for the property in question…and substantially more than I could actually sell the property for with the land use restrictions imposed on us by environmentalists), I am unwilling to pay a level of taxes that would be required to effectively patrol and provide response times that would make a difference…and the majority of my neighbors feel the same.

    They fail to mention that this has been the case here for a couple of years now…and we have had no increase in rural crime. The majority of real crime (as opposed to things like growing marijuana) is still in that 11 sq mi area served by the city Department of Public Safety with it's well staffed police department.
  15. Gopherman

    Gopherman Sometimes I Wish I Could Go Back to Sleep Site Supporter++

    What I was talking about is giving out so much social assistance that an area can't afford to pay the basic necessities to keep the people who pay the taxes safe. LOL what did you think I meant? The premise as I understood it they couldn't afford to pay the police because of a budget crisis. Did I misunderstand?
  16. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King Site Supporter

    Actually we choose "not to afford" wasting money on a massive sheriff's department…the county commissioners keep putting up a levy (4 elections in a row now) and we keep saying no. Trying to "keep people safe" by running a sheriff's patrol in a large county where the majority of the area has maybe 30 people per sq mi just isn't cost effective (or effective at all, for that matter). It has little or nothing to do with social assistance, which isn't supported by property taxes (at least not here).
    Tracy and Georgia_Boy like this.
  17. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    The thing folks just have no understanding of, is that the US Forest Service controls MOST of the land in that county, and they PAY NO TAXES. So the local Land owners do NOT want to pay to patrol all that Federal Property, and are very willing and able to protect themselves, if required, until a Deputy can get there, which in any case will ALWAYS be AFTER THE FACT, Anyway, even if they decided to have a full compliment of Deputies....
  18. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King Site Supporter

    Coincidentally I was reminded today of an unfortunate side effect of this whole issue.

    After the repeated attempts by the 2 prior sheriffs to pass levies to EXPAND patrol and "crime fighting" (meaning getting goodies from the feds for joining their "wars" on drugs, dissent, etc), we finally elected a sheriff who is active in the Constitutional Sheriffs Association and is willing to listen to the people and focus on investigation and the jail.

    Unfortunately, when the sheriff put together a proposal to keep the jail staffed and maintain current staffing for investigations, too many have been so conditioned to say "no" that they just won't listen. Community based policing runs short when it comes to keeping bad guys in custody and investigating chop-shops and identity theft scams (the current crimes of choice for the local meth heads).

    [rnt] [peep]
    Gopherman likes this.
  19. Gopherman

    Gopherman Sometimes I Wish I Could Go Back to Sleep Site Supporter++

    I am not meaning to be offensive, Don't want a Phil Robinson thing to get going on me here!
    Do you live in this County that's being talked about here?
    I agree with the statements about being safer when citizens protect themselves! And I agree that Private Police Force run by the people themselves that are directly affected, will be less inclined to sit in a the doughnut shop and kill the clock till something happens and then respond.
    The question would have to be What About George Zimmerman? That was the exact same scenario as what your talking about here.A citizens patrol.
    What happens when you legitimately respond to a scene, things go bad, somebody gets shot, The Left Wing, Gov. run Media steps in? Their all about gun control, (Oregon's Pretty Liberal, I lived in Estecada for a couple years) the first time you bust some little Methhead cooking his dope out in the woods on your property, and he pulls a gun, and you shoot him, your going to be the target of every Bleeding Heart, Excuse For The Bad Guy Making, Pitchfork Carrying Liberal in America calling you everything in the book, and setting out to destroy your life and smear all participants involved!
    We see it happening every day, I'm sure you watch the news! My original point was about how we have become a Nanny State and it directly effects all things, the Fed's cut the funding. Why? Because they don't have any more to give, and are forced to make cuts! their not going to cut any programs that affect the Elite!
    I'll bet every Senators personal district Police force is fully funded! Regardless of personal veiws on the Police, it is still the Local Govt's. responsibility to protect and serve! Adequately, or else they need to Deputize all participant in order to protect them from legal repercussions! [soap]
    Citizens take law into own hands after cash-strapped Ore. county guts sheriff's office
    Their Painting You as Vigilante's!
    The title of this Article already Proves what I'm trying to say, the media has already put a target on your head!
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2013
  20. Pax Mentis

    Pax Mentis Philosopher King Site Supporter

    Yes (see posts 9, 14 & 16) I live in Josephine County and, with close to 25 years in state and federal law enforcement, am somewhat involved in the organization of neighbors. I also serve on a sheriff's review board and am a personal friend of the current sheriff. I don't find you offensive at all…though I do find myself wondering if you actually read the posts to which you respond.
    First of all this is not a private police force…it is somewhat akin to a neighborhood watch with a healthy leavening of retired sworn officers and assistance from the sheriff's department. There has also never been an issue of officers sitting in a doughnut shop…but, as I pointed out and BT (the original poster) reiterated, the physical and demographic makeup of our county does not lend itself to patrol as our population density outside the county seat is somewhere in the range of 30 persons (not households) per sq mile…and much of the property (right at 2/3) is "owned" by the USFS, BLM and Federal Park Service and therefor does not pay property taxes. The lack of these taxes was not a major issue for many years because the county received taxes from the businesses that harvested timber from these lands and produced the lumber we shipped all over the world. Unfortunately, around 20 years ago, the forests were to a great extent closed to logging in oder to assure breeding grounds for the spotted owl and a few other "endangered" species. For some years after that (as a result of pressure from our congressional delegation) the federal government made payments offsetting the loss in tax revenue caused by their possession and regulation of the land until they quit doing so as a budget response about 5-6 years ago.
    Zimmerman was far from the situation here..first of all he was in a city in a relatively liberal area with streets and houses all around, a split between gun owners and dependent types and a city's police presence. The mountains of Southern Oregon is a far cry from Estecada and the rest of the liberal enclave that makes up the Northwestern quarter of Oregon…we are a whole 'nother state down here and pretty much all have guns, and a large number of us also have tractors with backhoes attached (or a close friend/neighbor who does). While, to the best of my knowledge, it has been some years since anyone has found a meth lab on their property, such a discovery would be more likely to result in the sheriff's department (including our decent sized reserve/auxilliary made up of POST trained and sworn individuals) taking action (as I mentioned…patrol has been eliminated, with the sparse resources going to those areas that NEED a governmental organizations) or, if the scenario you suggest were to carry out, a shoot, shovel and forget that never happened. As far as the liberal media, they don't like it much down here. I mentioned that this situation has developed over the past few years (most of the downsizing of the SD is about 3 years old now) and we have had a couple of articles like this one show up and a few criticizing the sheriff for suggesting to folks either unable or unwilling to protect themselves that they might be smart to move into the city.
    Sojourn, Tracy, chelloveck and 3 others like this.
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