How bad is it in Columbia County? "We'll just let them rob the house, then."

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Imagine that you're looking out your window and you notice that someone you don't recognize has broken in to your neighbor's house - and is carrying out valuables. What do you do? Call 9-1-1, of course.

But then, the dispatcher tells you that there's no deputy available to respond to the call.

Time and again, that's the situation in Columbia County, Oregon. Listen to this short 9-1-1 tape:

Time and again, "No deputy available" has been the response to folks calling 9-1-1 in rural Columbia County. You see, Columbia County only has seven deputies to patrol the entire 657 square miles of unincorporated Columbia County.

And that's not seven on duty - that's seven total. And they're not just doing patrol. They're also the only ones available to investigate property crimes, respond to domestic violence and child abuse calls, and more.

As the O's Steve Duin wrote back in October:

With no detective on hand, the day-shift officer often follows up on DHS child-abuse calls.

"Sometimes," Moyer conceded, "we take hours to get to a domestic violence call. I've heard citizens out here say they don't call the sheriff anymore because who knows when or where they'll show up."

Fortunately, in May, there will be an election in Columbia County for a tax levy to fund law enforcement. If Columbia County's Measure 5-210 passes, it'll fund five more deputies, three investigators, two sworn supervisors, a records clerk, two deputies for the jail, and a mental health program for the jail.

Make no mistake: This sort of thing is happening all over rural Oregon, along with closing libraries, schools, and other services.

It's why it's so critical that the federal county payments program continue to be protected (and that its inevitable end comes on a nice, slow glide-path) and that we find economic development programs that work in small towns and rural places in Oregon.

Oh, and one more thing: If, like me, you enjoy small-town Oregon - and your Saturday night is free - consider going to a comedy show in Rainier to benefit the Yes on 5-210 campaign. For $20, you'll be laughing and doing a good thing.

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    Check out this article!

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    It's a sad state to see what has become of Columbia County! We need to make this a thing of the past and get the patrols up to keep this from happening EVER again! Please think about your vote, and know that it counts! Make a difference, Vote Yes on Measure 5-210!

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    I'm going! It looks like a great comedy line up, and for $20 bucks, where else can you have that much fun!

    Passing this important. It will so help not only the rural areas of this pretty county, (and it is spectacular) to keep it's citizens safe, it will also help the "city folks" as their city cops have no back up when a crime is in progress. Usually, there are only 2 deputies on duty at any given time to cover 654 square miles. If it's a "big crime" like murder, child abuse, etc. they have to use one of those deputies, take them off the streets, to investigate the crime as there are currently no county investigators. Like Kari's article mentioned, if it's a property crime, there are no investigators to look into it and solve the crime. Seriously.

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    This is the time for we in Columbia County to take action and vote yes on Measure 5-210. Not only will it give us the needed law enforcement to protect the public safety, but it will improve the quality of life for all of us -- whether we're in town or out of the city limits.

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    I have to say that my sympathy for people who keep voting for the US to become a third world country is limited.

    This is what third world countries are like. I've seen them firsthand: a tiny handful of multi-millionaire and billionaire families on palatial estates that would make your jaw drop. Most everyone else impoverished living in stone shanty towns. Almost no taxes, except for sales taxes (on the poor). Almost no middle class. Almost no police to keep away criminals. Or underpaid police who actually are the criminals. Lots of "bodyguards" or "security contractors" who are essentially gangster thugs.

    Again, if you don't want to live in a third world country, don't keep voting to make America third world. If you do, just move to one.

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    Sheriff Dickerson invited people from all the communities in our county to develop a no-frills plan to fill gaps in his agency's ability to respond to emergency calls & associated responsibilities. As a result, the measure he proposes is respectful of the current limited means of many Columbia County property owners - and will reasonably benefit people inside and outside city limits. This levy does not propose to "fix it all", but it should fill the gaping holes. It is time to vote yes.

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    The lack of law enforcement in Columbia County is a good example of what conservatives call "government learning to live within its means."

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    I think a couple of southern Oregon counties have the same problem. (And have repeatedly voted down local tax measures for public safety.) So at what point does a county's lack of law enforcement become a problem for all Oregonians?

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    Am at the event right now. Great food, great folks, all pulling together to make a difference on their community.

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