Grants Pass City Council Discuss Law Enforcement Consolidation

By Sharon Ko

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — City council members discussed the idea of combining law enforcement agencies, as patrol deputies are spread thin in Josephine County. But Council members and the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety say they are concerned about the financial impact.

“The biggest issue we have to overcome locally is that county rural residents are currently unwilling to support that finance or contribution,” says Grants Pass Department of Public Safety Chief Joe Henner.

Henner says county residents made it clear on the May ballot.
“Currently, a group of potential partners who aren’t willing to pay more than 58 cents per thousand,” he says. But Henner also states that city residents are willing to pay for their own police protection.

“City residents pay ten times what rural residents pay for law enforcement. And it’s very important to keep that in mind because you don’t want to share your pizza with somebody who isn’t willing to pay for half of the pizza,” explains Henner.

City councilman Darin Fowler says the disadvantages seem to outweigh the benefits for the city.

“It seems to me the city has lots to lose in a combined service situation and the county has lot to gain because of the density of population here, a lot of the crimes are done here,” says Fowler. “We decided as a council that we didn’t want to spend a lot of the city’s money trying to find answers to a problem that we’re not sure is ours alone yet.”

But council members are evaluating both the city and county needs.

“I want to do whats best for the entire county as well. We just want to be ready with information as the county commissioners take the leadership role. We’ll be able to support them and give them information that we, as a city, have,” says Fowler.

Council members will discuss the idea again in September.