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Jul-26-2014 20:35printcomments

Public Meeting to Address Public Safety Concerns in Polk County

Polk County District Attorney Aaron Felton will address all public safety issues and concerns at 7:30 a.m., on Tuesday, August 5, at the Courtyard Coffee House, 156 SE Mill Street in Dallas.

Polk County Sheriff
The Sheriff reduced patrols to 10 hours per day on March 29, due to funding reductions. The impact has been a total of 332 calls from citizens during the hours of 10:00 p.m. to noon since March 29 through May 31 in which no deputies were available to respond. Photo Courtesy: Polk County Sheriff's Office

(DALLAS, Ore. ) - Residents of Polk County are invited to an open meeting with the Polk County District Attorney to discuss and listen to the public's idea's about current public safety issues the county is currently facing.

Polk County District Attorney Aaron Felton will address all public safety issues and concerns at 7:30 a.m., on Tuesday, August 5, at the Courtyard Coffee House, 156 SE Mill Street in Dallas.

Felton will try to answer all questions and listen to ideas regarding current public safety issues in Polk County including practices, procedures, and funding.

Polk County Sheriff's Office Hit Hard by Budget Cuts:

Previously Released Stories Regarding Polk County Sheriff's Office Budget Cuts:

On May 20, the passage of a Jail Levy by the citizen of Columbia County to maintain operation of their county jail had a negative impact on Polk County.

Sheriff Bob Wolfe said, "We budgeted money from Columbia County renting jail beds to keep from laying off additional employees at Polk County, now I must make additional reductions to the patrol division."

Polk County Budget Committee adopted the budget for the Sheriff's Office on May 14, which will take effect on July 1.

The adopted budget assumed nearly $300,000 in jail bed rental from Columbia County, however, now this anticipated revenue must be removed from the budget to balance, meaning, additional reductions of employees.

Sheriff Bob Wolfe stated, "We had hoped to return patrols back to at least 20 hours per day, that will not happen, we will remain with patrols working only 10 hours per day."

The Sheriff reduced patrols to 10 hours per day on March 29, due to funding reductions. The impact has been a total of 332 calls from citizens during the hours of 10:00 p.m to noon since March 29 through May 31 in which no deputies were available to respond.

This included, 28 accidents, 77 driving complaints, 6 burglaries, 15 thefts, 11 welfare checks, 12 domestic disturbances, 13 suspicious activity, 4 suspicious persons, 3 drug complaints, along with various other calls.

During this same time period when deputies were on duty they responded to and handled 473 calls while on duty.

Since 2008, the sheriff's office has seen the patrol division reduced from 19 deputies to the current funded level of 11.

However, several employees have already left for more stable employment with other agencies leaving only eight deputies.

The remaining eight deputies are deployed with four assigned to Grand Ronde per contract, 2 working detectives, leaving only two patrol deputies along with 3 sergeants to cover 740 square miles.

On July 1, the patrol division will no longer have deputies assigned to Grand Ronde as the Grand Ronde Tribal Police Department will be handling calls on Tribal Lands, the sheriff's office will still be responsible for all non-tribal land calls.

The calls on tribal land take approximately 25 percent of our total calls so now with the Tribal Police handling those calls the patrol deputies previously assigned to Grand Ronde can be utilized to handle all calls throughout the County.

The bad news is the loss of anticipated revenue from Columbia County will now reduce the eight deputies to six deputies. There will still be two detectives, which leaves four deputies and three sergeants to cover the 10 hours shifts.

Sheriff Bob Wolfe said, "The reduction of two patrol deputies will be my recommendation to the Board of Commissioners, who will discuss this matter before the final adoption of the County General Fund Budget on June 25."

Unless there is a way to stabilize our funding before July of 2015, additional patrol reductions are likely.

Sheriff Bob Wolfe said, "We have worked closely with Oregon State Police, who have also suffered staffing reductions, and the local police departments to assist when and where they can. There are mandated functions, by law, of the Sheriff that OSP and Municipal Police agencies cannot fulfill, such as Search and Rescue, processing of court orders and civil process, along with operation of the County jail."




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