Cash-strapped law enforcement agencies in Oregon stop answering calls, sending officers: ‘If he … assaults you, can you ask him to go away?’
The first clue as to how dangerous it is to live in Oregon’s Josephine County?
No one answers the phone at the sheriff’s office.
“Due to budgetary constraints,” says a recorded voice, “we are only able to answer the phone from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.”
In the cash-strapped county that is home to scenic Grants Pass, a special election was held this week asking voters to approve a tax levy so more deputies could be hired.
Last year, a woman was raped in her home after calling 911 and staying on the line for more than 10 minutes. She was told there were no officers available to help her.
Yet Josephine County residents said no to the extra property tax that would have cost about $300 a year for homes valued at $200,000.
Sheriff Gil Gilbertson says that defeat will force him to cut even more deputies — after laying off 65% of his staff last year.
He’s gone hat in hand to county commissioners, asking for more than $649,000 to keep what’s left of his staff — some 35 deputies charged with safeguarding more than 83,00 people.
“I’ve asked for money from the county to just maintain the status quo, which in my opinion is not safe,” he told the Daily News.
Josephine County is one of several jurisdictions across the country that have suffered huge federal budget cuts, which in turn caused drastic layoffs of local law enforcement officers and fire fighters.
Cincinnati and Detroit were among some of the big cities forced to fire scores of cops and firefighters this year after losing millions in funds from Washington.
Earlier this year in Wisconsin’s Milwaukee County, Sheriff David Clarke Jr. urged residents to arm themselves and learn how to shoot because “simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option.”
Clarke’s 30-second public service announcement, in which he said he had been forced to fire 48 staffers in 2012, made national news.
Josephine County has garnered similar headlines, thanks to the bluntness of its sheriff.
After having to fire 23 deputies after the 2012-2013 budget was passed was in July, Gilbertson issued a press release suggesting domestic violence victims “consider relocating to an area with adequate law enforcement services.’
Less than a month later, a woman called 911, saying her ex-boyfriend was trying to break into her house.
“He’s broken in before, busted down my door, assaulted me,” Michael Bellah’s victim told a dispatcher. She was told to hide.
The call came in at 4:58 a.m. on a Saturday. The strapped Josephine County sheriff’s deputies are only available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
So the dispatcher transferred the woman, whose identity has not been published because she is a sex crime victim, to the state police.
And from there, things got even worse. The state police said they didn’t have anyone to send, either.
Dispatcher: “Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there. You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away?”
Michael Bellah, the former boyfriend, did not go away.
“I’ve already told him I was calling you,” the woman tells the dispatcher. “He’s broken in before, busted down my door, assaulted me.”
The dispatcher tells the woman to hide somewhere in the house.
“It’s unfortunate you guys don’t have any law enforcement out there,” the dispatcher then says.
Bellah, who later pleaded guilty to kidnapping, assault and sexual abuse, busted down the front door, then beat and raped the woman.
Gilbertson said the attack is the sole rape case in Josephine County since last year.
The City of Grants Pass estimates that there has been a 73% increase in thefts and a 53% increase in burglaries, Gilbertson said.
He has no idea what the county-wide crime statistics are because he can’t spare a deputy to collate the data, he said.
Because of federal cuts to timber subsidies last year, Gilbertson said his budget dropped from $12 million in 2012 to $5.2 million this year.
You mean the pride of the Tree Huggers to screw the evil Loggers!! I guess environmentalism has consequences! 🙂
Also apparently, the locals passed on a Tax Increase to give them more money (because they don’t have any either- all the logging jobs dried up!).
Austerity is evil, after all. 🙂
Tuesday’s tax levy, which would have brought in more than $9 million to hire new deputies, was soundly defeated by more than 500 votes.
“The feds have laid claim to all the trees, we can’t cut them down (for timber sales), and now they’ve walked away and turned their backs on us,” Gilbertson said.
Well, they did that because the Tree Huggers don’t want you to cut them down because of the Sierra Club and other who want to “protect” the forest from humans at any cost.
Federal timber production and jobs at Oregon mills have fallen dramatically since 1990, when the northern spotted owl was listed under the Endangered Species Act. Bigger, more efficient mills and the huge housing construction drop in the recent recession contributed as well.
Rough & Ready was among 22 sawmills in Josephine and Jackson counties in 1975, the Phillippis said, down to none now.
“We have customers who are dying for it,” she said. “The only thing we don’t have is the logs.” (Oregon live)
The Obama Administration did the same with oil shale in Southern Utah.
So the government comes in and declares it off-limits (with help from Enviro-whackos) and then leaves you to rot. But don’t worry, government control of everything is much better than evil Corporate America!!
And the Enviro-whackos are proud of themselves. They are the righteous few!
“Then it was up to people who don’t have jobs to pay more taxes for law enforcement, and they just can’t do it,” he said.
So what will the sheriff’s department do?
“We’ll just do the best we can,” Gilbertson replied. “And crime will go up.”
In southwest Oregon, the battle still runs hot.
High unemployment raises the stakes here. So does a storied timber history and a heavy reliance on dwindling logging revenues from federal forests to fund county government. Three Oregon Congressmen want to more than double logging in the region’s O&C Lands, forests shifted to the feds after an early 20th Century railroad deal went sour.
But the consequences are uniquely high for environmentalists, too, who said no to big increases in logging when Gov. John Kitzhaber convened an O&C Lands task force last year to attempt a compromise.
Josephine County and its neighbors sit in the Klamath-Siskiyou eco-region, one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. The landscape, warmer than Douglas fir strongholds to the north, supports 36 species of conifers alone and some of Oregon’s top runs of salmon and steelhead.
Meanwhile, Josephine County voters decide today whether to increase their lowest-in-the-state property taxes to partially plug the gap left by logging reductions.
“Everybody views this as black and white, and it’s just not that way,” says Tom Tuchman, Kitzhaber’s forestry adviser. “Finding a balance is an incredibly difficult thing to do.” (Oregon Live)
But apparently having any effective law enforcement is even more so. 🙂
BUT AT LEAST YOU SAVED THE SPOTTED OWL!!! 🙂