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Counties Meet for Public Safety Summit

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CENTRAL POINT, Ore. — Sheriffs, commissioners, and other leaders from five southern Oregon counties are meeting to find ways to help fund public safety.

Representatives from Jackson, Josephine, Curry, Douglas and Coos counties met at the Jackson County Sheriff’s office Tuesday for the second of five summits scheduled to find solutions to public safety problems.

Over the past several years, counties have dealt with budget problems affecting public safety. Some of the most severe cases have been in Josephine and Coos counties, which have seen severe cuts to patrols, jails, district attorneys and other departments. County leaders said part of the reason has been a decrease in federal timber payments through the Secure Rural Schools program. Voters have also rejected levies that would have increased property taxes to fund those services.

County leaders at Tuesday’s summit said it was important to have five different counties in the same room, because it lets them put their heads together.

“It’s not going to be just county commissioners settling it, it’s not going to be the sheriff settling it and it’s  not going to be city councilors settling it,” said Curry County Sheriff John Bishop.

One of the biggest issues brought up Tuesday was about earning back the public’s trust. Several county leaders said they needed to do a better job of informing local communities about the issues faced by public safety departments. Some ideas tossed around involved creating more oversight to let people know how money is being spent, and finding ways to get people involved.

The public will get a chance to review any plans made at Tuesday’s meeting.