Lane County Public Safety is defined as “The prevention of and protection from events that could endanger the safety of the general public from significant danger, injury/harm, or damage, such as crimes or disasters (natural or man-made).”
Public safety has drastically deteriorated in Lane County since the loss of Timber Receipts. To off-set this, the Federal Government has been providing funds to Lane County’s General Fund. With the work of many (including local citizens and your elected officials), the Federal Government has renewed this funding for several additional years up-to and including 2012. The funding started at approximately 53 million dollars for the year and has been reduced each year. For the 2012 year, the renewal was about 3.5 Million dollars. We believe this 2012 year was a long stretch getting these funds and there are no plans to renew it for 2013.
It is out of great concern for both the safety of the deputies, the citizens of Lane County and the institution of Lane County government that we inform you, our citizens.
In March-August of 2012, the Lane County Sheriff had to eliminate 67 positions in the Sheriff’s Office to meet the budget requirements. This resulted in the loss of several patrol deputies to respond to emergency calls for service and left coverage to only 18 hours each day (Just to be average in Patrol the “Lane County Sheriff’s Office” would need to add 151 more deputies), the loss of additional jail beds leaving only 152 beds for local offenders (just to be average in Oregon the “Lane County Sheriff’s Office” would need to add 474 more jail beds), reduction in services like Mental Health, Alternative Programs and Parole and Probation (which do not supervise any misdemeanor crimes anymore).
Normal county patrol (which covers the entire county) now only has 3 Deputies and a Sergeant assigned to dayshift and 3 Deputies with a Sergeant on Swingshift. This adds risk to the Lane County Deputies responding to any situation when they are needed. Consistently releasing pre-trial offenders back into the community due to lack of funded jail beds enhances the call load and risk to not only the responding deputies, but the citizens as a whole. Line of duty deaths have consistently increased throughout the nation and Oregon is not exempt. In 2009, there were 139 Line of Duty Deaths of Officers. 2010, there were 172 and 2011, there were 173. 2012 is fast approaching.
The Lane County Commissioners have been informed that the public has been put at risk because of their inability to hold dangerous offenders in our County Jail due to inadequate funding. This has been brought to the Board’s attention a number of times in the past by Circuit Court Judges, Police Chiefs, citizens, the District Attorney and Sheriff. The problem is… There just isn’t enough money…
It is the Sheriff’s sworn duty to “Conserve the Peace” which translates to ‘protect the public,’ and it is also his obligation to protect the Sheriff’s Office and Lane County from liability (i.e. your tax dollar). Our Lane County population is at risk, our deputies are at risk, and our economic growth is at risk when people don’t feel safe.
The Board of Commissioners have been advised by nearly all of Lane County’s criminal justice authorities, including those from the treatment community, that we need to open more jail beds to both keep the public safe and to make treatment programs work.
We are a voluntary non-profit, incorporated, Political Action Committee of persons interested in the public safety issues relating to Lane County and we are not affiliated with any government or political party. The Committee has been created to participate directly and indirectly in the political campaigns of individuals for elective office, educating the citizens of Lane County as well as to participate in legislative proposals which affect Lane County Public Safety.
A website has been published for your information. Visit “CitizensForASaferLaneCounty.com” and follow the issues. Sign up for the newsletter and help us fight the battle of “Public Safety” in Lane County with your donations (your donation may be tax deductable).
Thank you for your time in helping us combat this important issue.
Citizens For A Safer Lane County