GRANTS PASS, Ore. – With budget cuts forcing reductions to public safety in Josephine County, private security companies have found themselves facing new and dangerous situations.
The owners of Concierge Home and Business Watch said they have received doubles the amount of calls for service in year since Josephine County voters rejected the 2012 public safety levy. The owners said they have also had to hire more security staff to handle 200 extra calls per month.
But security officers on the road said because of a lack of sheriff’s patrols and lack of space in the county jail, they have been encountering more aggressive suspects.
“We hear things, such as ‘there’s nothing you can do, you can’t take us to jail there’s no space for us in jail. If you call the police, it’ll take three or four of them to do anything, and they probably won’t do anything anyways,’” said Robert Osborne, a security guard with Concierge Home and Business Watch.
Osborne said transients have become violent with responding security guards. He said officers have been yelled at and assaulted. Osborne himself was shot at during an incident last year. He said the situations become more serious outside of Grants Pass city limits, where security teams do not have police to back them up.
“We’re kind of on our own, so it becomes a bit more dangerous once we enter the county,” he said.
Security officers can detain suspects on scene while they wait for law enforcement officials to arrive. But if the sheriff’s office cannot respond due to a lack of deputies and other agencies cannot come to the scene, the security officers have to let the suspect go.