One of our top priorities should be properly funding the Sheriff’s department. Our rural communities face absurd response times and the Sheriff’s department lacks the ability to respond to many calls or follow up and investigate the calls they do cover. The lack of patrols have also created lax traffic enforcement leading to increases in traffic accidents and deaths. There’s currently 3-4 deputies for any given shift to cover all the unincorporated areas of Lane County. Some estimates are an additional $9-10 million more is needed for proper patrols. We can make significant strides with patrols and traffic safety with as little as $3 million (see pdf report below.)
I intend to explore all options to help cover that gap in funding, including:
- Prioritizing public safety in the budget process
- efficiency gains, freeing up funds that can be shifted to public safety
- countywide levies increasing public safety funding
- creating special public safety districts in areas that want dedicated law enforcement service
Another possibility that could supplement other efforts is to explore creating rural volunteer programs in the vein of Seniors on Patrol. However, the County already relies on a team of nearly 400 volunteers, in order to provide critical services. We as a community would likely be better served by deliberately funding our public safety needs.
Increased patrols and presence in our rural communities should have an effect on lowering the burden on other emergency responders as well, with reduced traffic incidents.
Here’s an excellent report from a series of Deliberative Dialogue sessions in Marcola:Transportation dialogue report