GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Josephine County residents pull a Sheriff’s patrol car over a mile by rope, as a way to show their support for the county’s criminal justice system.
The event was put on today by Securing Our Safety, a citizen-run organization to support law enforcement. They pledged their support and tax money to a system that has been hammered by budget shortfalls.
But despite a light-hearted atmosphere at the event, officials with the county say they’re more than a little concerned.
“The state of law enforcement in this county is pretty dire right now,” said Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson.
After losing 65% of its workforce last year, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Department says the few who remain could use the support of county citizens.
“The ones that are still left with us has doubled and tripled their workload,” said Gilbertson. “And they’re approaching burnout.”
Attendees like Salvador Corona say they have felt the effects of that burnout. Corona’s business was robbed twice in the past two years, and shortly after that his wife survived being assaulted in the middle of the street.
He says he decided to turn that into something positive.
“I became interested in seeing what I can do for the community,” said Corona. “And I am supporting the community in any way shape or form.”
In addition to burning a few calories, attendees like Corona voiced their support for a tax levy that would increase their property taxes by roughly 10-25% to fund the struggling justice system.
“If we pull together…we can restore our legal system and have the laws enforced,” said Corona.
Officials say that money would only be a short term fix, but they’re hoping the ballot measure will pass so that they can do their part in return.
“It’s just not natural for law enforcement not to do their job,” said Gilbertson. “That’s what we live for, we live for this job.”