GRANTS PASS, Ore. – A rise in 911 calls in Josephine County has dispatchers stretched thin. The county sheriff’s office says it’s busy answering hundreds of more calls since the public safety levy failed in last May’s primary.
Dispatchers say from March to April, 813 calls came in for the sheriff’s office. After the failed criminal justice tax levy, 1,122 calls came in. The sheriff’s office is also noticing a rise in calls about property crime.
“We’re seeing a lot of fuel lines cut and stealing gas. We’re seeing a lot more burglaries and thefts, it’s on the increase,” explained Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson.
It’s an unfortunate outcome the sheriff predicted.
“It is a reality,” the Sheriff said. “We anticipated just that happening. We’ve seen it elsewhere, so we’re no different than any other part of the country or the world. If there’s no law enforcement, things just get out of hand.”
Another cause and effect of the failed tax levy is how law enforcement can respond.
“We are now having to explain there is no sheriff personnel and that Oregon State Police is taken over that duty certain times,” says lead dispatcher, Marci Haack.
Oregon State Police will only respond to immediate threats.
“If someone broke into your house but if they’re not there or the suspect is not there on scene, then you’re not going to get a response,” says Haack.
“They’re not here to function for the county. I can’t turn them away. I need the help and they do a good job,” says Sheriff Gilbertson.
Without funding for extra deputies, the sheriff has his hands tied.
“I expect it to continue and grow. Like I said, I’ve seen this elsewhere and the more emboldened people get, the more they commit the crime,” stated Sheriff Gilbertson.
The sheriff’s office is unable to follow up on any property crimes. The office is able to log the information and give victims a case number for insurance purposes. Residents can also report crimes online on the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office website.